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Cervical Issues & Headaches

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hey everyone. Does anyone suffer from severe/migraine type headaches due to their cervical issues? Mine are getting worse and worse. Last night I had one that was pretty dibilitating. None of my pain meds touch the pain or make it go away even a little bit. I have an appt tomorrow morning to discuss this with my doctor. I know it's from my neck cause that's where the headache originates from, like right at the base of my neck where it meets my head. It can either stay there or pulsate to the front of my head. It really stops me from functioning and being able to do much of anything cause when I move around it starts pounding and pulsating and making me sick to my stomach. Lying down only keeps it from not pulsating. I'm gonna push for a new MRI cause I really think either my condition has worsened or there is something new wrong. He did have me try out a migraine med awhile ago and it did nothing to help. Hopefully there is something else that will help. Anyone have any meds that work for them?

Thanks, Brandy


  • than those types of headaches. the pain is relentless. i never found any pain med to help either but i was given a heart medicine called atenalol that brought down the severity of the pain by reducing blood pressure. i had my best results with ice. i would put the ice on my temple and apply pressure. i'd also put ice on that bone about 1.5" behind the ear and press hard.
    one thing that helped was to completely discontinue sugar. also don't exercise too much.
    do you find you get them about the same time each day?
    when i first got them the drs didnt know why. eventually however they found out my neck was unstable and i underwent a 3 level fusion. i haven't had trouble since the surgery..good luck brandy...hope it calms down.
  • I already have low blood pressure, so I doubt they want it to get any lower. I know he mentioned some seizure meds, but we haven't talked about that again so I don't know. They come in at all times really, but can happen more as the day goes on. Driving has been giving me headaches too. I've been told I need a fusion, but they didn't want to do it cause of my age (28 at the time, now 29). I can feel a small one even now, so I try to prepare and do what I can to keep it at bay. Hopefully he has an answer tomorrow.
  • I have issues with C4/C5 and C6/C7, and I too have massive (which is putting it kindly) headaches. I am scheduled for a fusion on C4/C5 with a possible corpectomy on C6, so the end result I could be fused from C3-C7.

    I am hoping after the surgery the headaches will just disappear..........fingers crossed

    I am in my early 30's and pain is pain, regardless of your age. I would really get a second opinion.
  • I have C5/6 issues...having ACDF on Monday the 20th, My headaches got so bad the admitted me for 5 days... I sure hope this surgery helps.

  • I'm sorry to hear other's are having these headaches. Hopefully the surgeries will correct that issue as well. Unfortunately for me, no one will do surgery on me at my age.

    I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow and gonna push for a follow up cervical MRI whether he likes it or not. I know things have gotten worse and I need to know how and what so I can inform my new doctors I get in SC.

    Also, I'm gonna push for more adequate pain management as what I am on now does nothing to help and my quality of life is suffering. Hopefully he listens.
  • since you have limited options i would
    1. get off all sugar
    2. no alcohol
    3. dont exercise until pain has subsided for several days
    4. ask dr. about short regimen of steroids
    keep asking drs for solution.
    hope it subsides
  • I get those types of headaches/mirgrians. I found that if you can sweat alot doing something it will ease the pain. Sweating helps clean out toxins from the body also. I try to take a really hot baths when i am so bad that i get sick to my stomach. Sit in the hot water out have a cold wash cloth on your forehead. Give it a try. Either a hot shower/bath or exercise. I know it sounds crazy, but it works for me and i have had them for about 15 years.
  • Hi Brandy,

    About 5 minutes after getting hit by a semi I got hit by the fiercest headache I'd ever had. Unfortunately the headache hasn't let up, even after 2 years and 2 surgeries.

    I did, however, have luck with Topamax, which is an anti-seizure medication. It took a while to get the doseage right but it has knocked the severity of the headache down to a dull roar instead of a migraine.

    Physical activity really makes my headaches climb the pain scale as does stress and driving or anything that involves using my arms or keeping my head in one position. Try keeping a headache journal and look for your "triggers". That may give the doc more to go on in finding a treatment plan for you.

    Good luck. I hope at the very least that they can help your brain pain since they won't help anything else.

    All the best,
  • Ever since I had to change doctors cause mine left the practice it's like beating my head against a wall. She was so good at listening to me and my needs or wants and helping me get what I needed to feel better. This guy listens, then disregards what I say, and makes his own judgement. I go in there, tell him about my issues, tell him how my quality of life is suffering cause of my pain and headaches and how hard it is to take care of my responsibilities or have any kind of enjoyment. I also tell him how I want off of the hydrocodone cause it does nothing for me and I don't like taking something that doesn't help. I asked him about a couple different pain meds like the patch. He just says he'll give me print outs of them. How the heck does that help me? Am I supposed to put the print out on my arm for crying out loud!?!?! So, anyway...after talking to him he wants me to try out nortriptyline, which from what I've read does nothing to help out most people's pain. I think the only reason he put me on it is cause I mentioned having trouble sleeping and having bad anxiety at night cause my husband is gone and I don't like sleeping alone. That's all well and good, but how the heck is that supposed to help my pain and headaches? I'm very upset if you couldn't tell. All I want is to be able to take care of my responsibilites and not have to be on the couch for the majority of the day. I don't know what to do anymore.....
  • I get headaches too! Not fun but I'm hoping that the surgery will calm them down. I had two levels acdf. C4c5,c5,c6, and I am still getting shooting pains in the back of my head. Hope it calms dowm because it can be unbearable. I wish us all luck because this is no fun!

  • Dull pain at the base of the skull, sides at the top of the head . Also tight scalp and from that nerve pains, and or pressure at the top of my head.

  • Dull pain at the base of the skull, sides at the top of the head . Also tight scalp and from that nerve pains, and or pressure at the top of my head.

  • Possibly it is time to change doctors. If the one you have is not listening to you, since you are the one paying him for help, I would be looking for one who was willing to listen and help. Good luck, headaches are no fun. With spondy and stenosis affecting the nerves, you need help. Has anyone mentioned pain managment? Take care, and less stress!LOL
  • I call those headaches the "beartrap," as once they clamp up they just don't want to let go.
    Mine would last from one to three days.
    I would get a feeling beforehand, but by then it's too late. I've learnt to minimise it by acting early, though.
    Hit it hard with strong pain meds, and muscle relaxants.
    Codeine types work better for me than Tramadol for this pain.
    Rest in bed. Don't read or watch TV. Just some quiet music.
    You do the best recovery when asleep, so bomb out!
    Also try a hot bath.
    Try different pillow heights and shapes. A sore neck is hyper-sensitive in this area.
    I have found that I can get rid of and prevent these attacks by having a weekly remedial massage.
    The central back muscles get very tight and pull on the neck muscles at the base of the skull.
    The side back muscles pull on the necks side muscles and give you bad pain on the sides.
    I go in with an awful base headache, like you describe, and walk out with it entirely gone.
    What a totally different feeling.
    Now that I have these muscles under some sort of control, I can feel the arthritis pain, but it is quite minor.
    I have a long history of chronic neck pain, matching my long work history with computers!
    I urge you to include your musculature into the equation, as if you don't you are possibly eliminating the culprit.
    Make sure it is remedial or sports massage, not just the feel good type.
    You may well find the relief you desperately need, as I did.
    My pain doctor put me onto this path.
  • MaggieP: I'm moving in two weeks anyway, so I'll be looking for a new doctor. Hopefully it's not too much of a headache. I've been given the run around way too much with this stuff. I was referred to pain management only to get shots which I refuse cause I tried the Medrol pack and had a bad reaction to it. I might still try later if no other options are given to me, but I am hesitant.

    PeterB: Exactly what you said. Once they start it's really hard to stop them and they last for so long, much longer than a migraine. I'm going to look into message therapy after I move cause I do have a lot of muscle problems. I have limited ROM cause of constant muscle spasms along with my neck, so I think if I can get them to calm down it might ease things up a bit, at least that's what I am hoping for. I'd take stronger meds if someone would actually give me some. Strongest thing I have is 5/500 Hydrocodone and that stuff does nothing for me at all anymore. I'm trying to get something stronger, but it's like pulling teeth to get this doctor to prescribe anything.
  • BrandySC, it can be hard to find a pain med that works on these pains, especially muscle spasms and tightness.
    That is the beauty of the massage-it goes directly to the problem and eases it dramatically (if it is muscular.)
    You may well find then that your lower strength pain meds will be enough.
    But with such severe pain and problems, don't expect to get cured in one or two treatments.
    Expect months, as muscles have a memory and try to resume what they were doing. So they have to be untrained.
  • hello everyone, it am hear to say that i did have my acdf c5/c6 June 17th with hardware. the first couple of weeks i thought the symptoms might be subsiding. i knew that healing was going to take some time. but i am back to same old schedule of percoset 5/325 . usually up to 6 per day, muscle relaxers sometimes. i watch the clock for my next dose. the headaches are just as bad if not worse than before surgery, they start at base of neck, and pain works it way to the top of my head and sides. i cannot even hardly open my eyes , they get so bad. the muscle spasms continue, i do have fibromyalgia, which is so painful down to my fingertips, and to the tips of my toes, i wake up and it is the first thing i think about. i also have crps - chronic reflex pain syndrome in my left arm, that can be debilitating. i thought that after my surgery , i would get some relief, my ROM is somewhat , (tiny) better. along with headaches, i do not know if anyone else has this, but my pain goes into my ears, you know it feels like you have a ear infection, but doc has checked and i do not. the ear pain hurts so bad. i associate everything with my cervical problems, at least my upper part anyway. i do have a pain mgt. i see, which i have an appt. july 28th. first time i have seen him since my surgery, so we will see. all i know he is giving me more pain meds. for sure when i walk out of there. i will let ya know how it goes
    lets all keep together in these freaky headaches. LEO ~X( 8} :T
  • After having a TIA (mini-stroke) I started having severe migraines a couple of which sent me back to ER afraid of another stroke. After three surgeries on my neck, it was finally decided my bones were too brittle and my neck too used to reverse lordosis (since it has always been that way somewhat from scoliosis) to hold. But my neurosurgeon always said the headaches had nothing to do with my neck! Mine originate from the top of my neck, bottom of my skull going up and into a full head/face attack. And crying or stressing only makes it worse. No pain meds help, but did find an injection at the hospital that helped. Point being, after three years of not understanding what was happening, a new Pain Management Specialist told me the obvious as she put a finger on the spots that hurt (didn't know they did till she touched them) and said it was muscle spasms also. Didn't even think to figure you have muscles through your head, too. She put me on much stronger amount of muscle relaxer (at bedtime) and is going to do trigger point injections this Friday. Hate needles, and not liking the idea of a needle into a sore part of my head...but anything to get rid of the headaches, right?!
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I feel for you. For your headaches and your doctor problems. Been there, done that...well actually still there. lol. I know you've probably tried everything as most of us have at one time for these headaches. I just wanted to suggest one more thing that I've tried. Drink lots of water. They say it can really help. Didn't work for me but I guess it depends on the cause of the headaches. Worth a try anyway. Good luck.

  • I have two different kinds of headaches.

    The one that I *think* is from my neck feels like I was rough-housing around (like when I was a kid) and accidentally slammed the back of my head on the floor. It goes from the back of my head, thru my skull, to right behind my nose. It's accompanied with cramp-like pain on both sides of skull base & down my neck muscles. It's usually always there but varies in "volume"...can't find a way to stop the volume from cranking up. :( I don't cry...or it gets worse.

    The other headache is one-sided - may be neuralgia or dental related.

  • I've found it really difficult to find a doc to 'see' the connection between my headaches and my neck problems. I definately have both a neck pain problem and a headache problem that are separate but still they 'talk' to one another.

    I'm currently working with a world reknowned headache specialist who referred me to a well known neck pain doctor. This doctor wrote "What to do about a pain in the neck" ---a very helpful layperson book.


    This doctor told me that only recently headache neurologists and neurosurgeons etc are starting to acknowledge cervical type headaches. This helps me understand why its so difficult for our doctors to put it all together and help us. This has been a huge problem for me making it doubly hard to move forward. Now hopefully with more enlightened docors I'll be able to get the care I need and not continue to be dismissed.

  • I to had these type of headaches always at the piont where the base of the scull jions with the neck and sometimes would continue down the jaw and around to the back of the eye...made me feel pretty miserable....after seeing chiros physios massage accupunture...had an MRI which showed three herniated discs....now recovering from a mass fussion of C4 TO C7...straight away I could notice the pain in my shoulder and right arm gone and the head pain reduced to hardley any at all...
  • Most of pain is coming from knots in the muscles in neck neck ( scalenes /mastoceirodatal sp) they refer pain i.e headaches, shoulders , back ..trigger points all along these muscle groups. Release the trigger points and you can get relief from the pinched nerves , tendons and muscles which are the root of the pain. I have found a skilled physical therapist who knows about Trigger points . I have also purchased a book ( google trigger points) which is a self treatment manual. Some of us w/chronic pain have knots which have been their for years. It takes time to work on release of them.
  • Severe cervical pain, fused C4-C5, and 2 years later fused C5-C6. The 2nd fusion only lasted 6 months before pain set in. Have for 21 years dealt with this, traction, P.T., massage, heat/ice, exercises, massage, pain docs with Oxycontin and so much more, direct cortisone injections monthly, epidural injections, and 6 radiofrequency nerve cutting 6 times.

    I always thought it was desk work and stress causing the pain and headaches, but once I found out there were bone spurs and no discs left in the areas fused (caused by a severe accident in 1971), surgery helped. The catch-22 is that after these fusions, it puts pressure on the adjoining areas, then causing more problems. My problems now are not at a point where I want any more fusions (have also had L4-S1 fused).

    Someone here described the pain perfectly. The cord from the neck to the base of the skull becomes like a steel rod, the muscles surrounding knot up painfully, then muscles extend from there up the sides of the head (ears) and then the excruciating pain behind the eyes. I try everything, RX Dendracin lotion helps, Norco, Tramadol, Neurontin, Valium, Ativan, Exedrin Tension Headache and the newest help, real coffee. It seems to open capillaries and help the headaches. I still have a lot of pinched nerves from C2-C4, bone scans show more problems C4-C6 where fused, and another bad area C6-C7 that caused pain mid back (wings). Feel like I've been slugged. Pain in right top arm, and numbness down left arm and hand. I purchased a hard plastic tool to push hard on the knotted muscles for about 20 seconds and towards 15 seconds it seems to relax.

    Right now for the first time after 6 nerve cuttings, I'm experiencing the dreaded double pain from what I had prior to the procedure. Started after 2 days and is still persisting after 2 weeks, today is 15 days. I actually had about 4 okay hours today which was a miracle. Just waiting and hoping I'll get 6 months relief after these nerves finish dying. Wish they didn't regenerate, but they do.

    I'm sure all of you can relate. I want my life back. I want to do things, have fun, into semi-retirement, but am supposed to be running a home business, but can barely work at my desk or clean house.

    What helped since yesterday was finding this site and all the different people, trial and error ideas how to help. Sounds like we're all different and react differently, but I'll try anything at this point.

    Just moved after living in the same house for 31 years to another state a year ago. Barely unpacked, I see it being 5 years until I'm able to unpack it all, tempted to take it all unseen to thrift stores because I'm unable to bend (3 knee surgeries and ankle surgery too). Medtronics spinal cord stimulator implant at my waist which has been a pure miracle for me.

  • Hi Brandy...I was getting evil headaches so my Orthopedic Surgeon got a CT done and it resulted in my having to have 3 levels fused in my neck..
    Since everything settled down, my headahes went away..
    Please let me know if I can help you any futher

    I wish you luck.
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