The connection between Migraines and Neck pains

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Aug 10, 2021

A recent review has affirmed the long-standing observation that people who experience migraines and neck pain may actually have a mechanical problem affecting the function of their neck. Often, when people first think of migraines, they believe that they are caused by stress or genetics or hormones or chemicals. However, there may be far more to the migraine story when you also experience neck pain.l

Migraine specialists have long known that the sensory and pain processing centres of the brain associated with migraine involve nerve cells that are known as the Trigeminospinothalamic Nucleus. This centre not only receives sensory messages about the face and around the brain but also from the joints of the upper neck. Therefore, migraine specialists have reasoned that if you experience migraines and also neck pain, it could be that you are experiencing a sensory/pain processing disorder that is originating from a mechanical problem in your neck.

The reason that this is so important is that so many migraine treatments focus on chemical therapy. And while they may help reduce the symptoms of migraine, they do not always resolve the underlying cause. Because if the problem is physical in its origin, then it may be that a physical treatment to improve neck function may well also be able to help people with migraines. 

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Migraines and Neck Pain: Different Treatments and Specialists

Many people who experience migraines try a number of different treatments and see a number of different specialists to experience relief.Some of the more common physical migraine treatments include the following:

  • Migraine specialists (i.e., Pain clinics)
  • Acupuncture
  • Physiotherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage
  • Dentistry 

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Each one of these approaches has different techniques as well. For example, there is the Watson Technique that is employed by physiotherapists. And there are over 40 different methods of chiropractic. And there are just as many, if not more different forms of massage, trigger point therapy, and so forth. 

The reality is that all of these methods work in varying degrees depending on the individual circumstances that are causing your neck pain and migraines. And no one - no one! - has it all 100% figured out … alas, I’m sure that you can appreciate that because if anyone person had it ALL figured out, everyone would be doing things all the same way with 100% success, and migraines would be a thing of the past.

So if you’ve been experiencing migraines for a long time and have already tried different therapies, specialists, and medications, you may still be looking for a solution that will work for you. In which case, we may not have all the answers, but if there is something DIFFERENT that you are still able to do, it may give you the opportunity for your body to heal and get a DIFFERENT POSITIVE outcome than you’ve gotten before. So in terms of migraines, let me ask you: has anyone ever looked at your Atlas?

Is it a Migraine or is it your Atlas out of Alignment?

The atlas vertebra is the top bone in your neck, also known as C1. The atlas has direct physical connections onto the connection tissue around the brain and also sit very close to the vagus nerve which is often associated with migraines. The atlas is the only bone in your neck that is not locked in place by an intervertebral disc. As a result, if you have ever had a neck, head, or whiplash injury, the atlas is particularly susceptible to injury.

And it is not always the type of injury act immediately causes pain, broken bones, or dislocations. We are talking about micro-damage to the muscles and ligaments that support the position of the atlas, and like 0.1% compound interest that is allowed to accumulate over a long enough period of time, a very small problem, in the beginning, can develop into an extremely severe problem later on.

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In this way, it is rare for migraines to develop out of the blue. They are usually the consequence of a long-standing problem that you did not even realise you had. ESPECIALLY if you have been experiencing long-standing neck pain, stiffness, soreness, or tightness through your shoulders, it is likely that there is a connection!

Even if you have tried physiotherapy, chiropractic, or massage that all work in the upper neck, they may or may not have worked for you. If so, there could be a subtle but important issue with the alignment of your atlas that has caused it to shift in a direction that is ever-so-different from the normal ways that these methods treat. In our own practice, we find that the atlas, when it misaligns, has the tendency to shift FORWARDS by a margin of at least 8:1, which is often the exact opposite of how so many different treatments focus on the neck.

How do we know? Because when we are first doing our consultations for people with migraines, we do a series of physical and neurological tests, and also customised diagnostic imaging that helps us to see mechanically what is actually happening on the inside of your neck. 

The key difference is that we know that every human being is built differently on the inside and also on the outside. So instead of just taking images from stock angles like what happens with standard x-rays, CTs, and MRIs, we look at things from oblique, three-dimensional angles so that we are able to visualise the exact location, direction, and degree of any mechanical neck problem that we may contribute towards your migraines.

As we result, that is how we are able to offer a DIFFERENT approach for helping people with migraines, even when they have been to so many migraines specialists and others therapies before.

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We believe in the innate potential for every human being to be well and to enjoy an extraordinary life. Atlas Health Australia is the premiere Blair upper cervical healthcare centre in Brisbane. Located in North Lakes, our practice is dedicated to helping people with chronic health conditions including vertigo reach their optimum health potential so that they can have long-term solutions and get back to enjoying the things in life that matter most.

Our principal Blair upper cervical chiropractor is Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, who is an advanced certified instructor with the Blair chiropractic society. He is an international lecturer, published author, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical specific healthcare. 

If you would like more information about how we may be able to help you if you experience migraines, our office offers a complimentary 15-minute consolation with Dr. Hannah to discuss your condition and answer any questions that you may have so that you can decide if care is right for you.

Simply call us at 07 3188 9329, or send us an email through the Contact Us link on this page, and we will be sure to get back to you. We look forward to hearing from you, and we will do our best to assist you, Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”


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