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Anyone with a herniated disc get headaches a lot/daily?

ButterflyPainBButterflyPain Posts: 289
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I've been dealing for 10 months with what I just found out is a herniated disc at C5 shown on the MRI. On the C-spine Xray showed at C5/C6 bone spurs/osteoarthritis but mild to moderate. Aside from the burning, aching, numb pain I get in the neck, arm and hand, I've also been getting headaches.

These headaches first seemed connected to stress then turned into an everyday thing. The pain was usually on the top left side, felt like someone was pushing down on my head. I also had similar nerve pain like the rest of my body pain. I also had pain at the base of the skull and neck.

I've had an EEG, CAT scan, and MRI of my brain which is negative/normal.

Lately the headaches have been less and Tylenol with codiene helps a bit.

I was wondering if anyone else gets headaches? or know if headaches can be a symptom of a herniated disc ?


  • I get chronic daily headaches but they dont seem to be cervical related. I have had everything checked out in that regard. They do seem to be vascular related as they respond to medication that works on the blood vessels (i.e. migraine-related medication, but they aren't migraines). I HATE taking medications but I do successfully control them with Cafergot (Ergotamine + Caffeine) and Topamax (Topamirate) - you could talk to your doctor about these.

    I was using Tylenol & codeine for years to control the headache pain but all that ended up doing was the tylenol (acetaminophen) has affected my liver and I was needing increasing amounts of codeine. The Cafergot and Topamax prevents the onset of headaches in the first place.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Thanks, Ill ask him if there are any headache medicines that sorta prevent headaches. I think it is time to start trying something else aside from just a pain killer.
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  • Butterfly Pain- I get daily headaches also. My are due to several bulges from c5 down to c7. My PT explained they are from the occipital muscles spasming. Muscle relaxers help sometimes, different stretches also help.

  • That makes sense. My Neuro say I had an occipital neuritis before I had the mri, so maybe it's connected to my herniated disc and neck spasms.
  • I also have a herniated c5-c6 disk and get headaches in my temples that don't go away. Vicodine and flexeril and advil relieve temporarily but come back. I had chiropractic and this helped and looking into traction device and cranial therapy.
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  • Am Sheppard- What is cranial therapy?
  • I've been dealing with headaches and migraines ever since my accident. They've only been getting worse.

    Worse yet, my doc says the surgery will help my arm, shoulder pain but my neck and headache pain will not go away. To me I don't see the point then.
  • Remember everyones symptoms differ. Prior to my first surgery I did have headaches. I called them "hangover headaches" but without the alcohol. I couldn't even move my eyes from side to side with out it killing me. I had ACDF and 2 levels and afterwards the headaches were gone. I am having more issue with my neck and those headaches are back. I am hoping that my future surgery will cure the headaches that I get now.
  • I know how it is to suffer with both head and neck pain. I hope to have answers myself shortly after I have an MRI later in the week. Frankly I think its going to take a miracle to figure out what is exactly the source of my pain. You might say I'm on the road less traveled and I'm lost! Unless there is something obvious on the MRI images, I think my doctors are lost too! Right now I take MS Contin three times a day. I'd been trying all sorts of meds in the past couple years but over the winter my doctor decided I was being undertreated. No kidding! My head pain would ramp up so bad I couldn't stop vomitting. Twice this winter I went to the ER even after trying meds at home including antinausea drugs. Since I have a histroy of serious cranial infections, they don't give me a hard time at least. This experience left me with a couple large hospital bills. I sure wish I didn't have to take the MS contin but it would be irresponsible for me to keep ending up in the ER.

    I've had MRI's of the cervical spine. I have DDD etc. I never had spine surgery. But with the headaches ramping up I returned to my neurosurgeon who operated on me a few years ago. Frankly I'm worried I have cranial scarring (adhesions) attached to the dura of my brain causing these headaches to increase in a growing fashion. In a way, I have a traumatic brain injury along with cervical spine pathology which includes a retrolisthesis from the DDD and osteoarthritis. I'm lucky in that I have a large sized spinal canal, otherwise I'd be in more trouble then I already am.
  • My headaches from herniated C4-C7 discs were what landed me in the ER leading to them finding the herniations.

    I had chronic pain and headaches for years but when the discs herniated onto the occipital nerve, the head and back of skull pain was incredibly intense. Dr's were unsure if I was hemorraging from the brain, getting cluster headaches or migraines as the pain would come on so suddenly and severe that I would actually drop to the floor.

    Where you feel the headaches I think depends on which nerves are being compressed but I would say without a doubt, it's probably the primary reason for the headaches.

    After the disc replacement, I've had the most headache free 2 years of my life so don't lose hope, your surgery should help but do be prepared for some residual pain for a bit post op.

    You may want to ask your Dr. which nerves are being compressed to help confirm the cause of your headaches.
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