Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Saturday, November 28, 2009 Blake, Community Member, asks

Q: What causes headaches and stiffness in the neck?

Teri, I have been having tightness/stiffness/discomfort in my neck and running up into the back of my head for a couple weeks. I went to a doctor, the ER, and a neurologist. The ER did a CT scan and blood work. Nothing showed. I am 27, male, young, and very healthy. I live an active lifestyle. The ER ruled out anything "serious" as far as meningitis. The neurologist said he didn't think they were migraines; he thinks stress and tension in the neck are causing the headaches. I am on Flexirol and Ibuprofen and waiting for this to leave. It is usually pretty bad when I wake up, and throughout the day it fluctuates. Sometimes it is not so painful, and other times it is. What should I do? Any idea?

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Answers (1)
Teri Robert, Health Guide
11/28/09 11:14pm


-:¦:-•:*'""*:•.-:¦:-•*Welcome to MyMigraineConnection!*•-:¦:-•:*'""*:•.-:¦:-


There are a few things that come to mind here...


Tension-type headaches can start with the type of feeligns you describe in your neck. You can read mroe about that in Tension-Type Headaches - The Basics.


Waking with this could mean a couple of things, both related to sleep...


1) Positioning or your pillow could be causing some neck problems.


2) Waking with a headache or Migraine is very often a sign of a sleep problem. Too much, too little, disrupted, and poor quality sleep are all strong potential triggers for headaches and Migraines. We have a video on this - Migraines, Headaches, and Sleep.


Flexeril is sometimes used for Migraine and headache prevention. The ibuprofen, on the other hand, should be limited to two or three days a week. If used more often, it can contribute to the problem by causing medication overuse headaches, aka rebound. You can find more information on this in Medication Overuse Headache - When the Remedy Backfires.


Everything I've mentioned are starting points, but only a doctor who can work with you in person can really answer your question. Hopefully the links I listed for you will give you some information to discuss with your doctor.


Was the neurologist you mentioned one you saw in the ER? If you've only been seen in the ER for this, the next step is to see your regular doctor. You really do need to get a confirmed diagnosis and work with a doctor on treatment to get this under control.


If your doctor isn't able to help you, it may well be time to consult a Migraine and headache specialist. It's important to note that neurologists aren't necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. Take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, check our listing of Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists.


I hope this helps! Please keep me posted?


Welcome again,


caregiver420, Community Member
6/13/12 10:24pm

Hello Teri, I have kinda the same pain as blake. Neck pain and headache I have suffered through this for about 5 years.. I had a serious snowboarding accident. anyways I came to the point where I need my life back, I miss work alot due to the pain, Dr. visits and rehabilitation. Its been several years after the accident... But I am Carefull on how I sleep, my posture, my diet etc. I wake up with pain and my neck is tight and have a headache. I wake up and go to bed with a headache 6 out of 7 days out of the week. My dr. prescribed flexeril ofcourse and topamax and then propranolol both which kept me up...... ughhh!!! Anyways the flexeril helps a lil but still have pain what would be more helpfull? because the flexeril helps with the muscles buth still have a headache from my spine I think which is called an oscitle headache spelling wrong maybe.. Help!!!


Teri Robert, Health Guide
6/13/12 11:37pm

Hello, caregiver,


I would recommend to you, as I did above, seeing a doctor who truly specializes in headache disorders.


Something else to check into is the possiblility that at least part of your problem is cervicogenic headache. Take a look at Cervicogenic Headache - The Basics for some information.


I think the word you're looking for my be occipital headache, which tells us the location, but not what type of headache it is.


Sincerely, getting to a specialist is the best advice I can give you. Neurologists aren't necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. I can't tell you how many people have seen a huge improvement when they actually get to a specialist.


Hope this is at least some help,


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By Blake, Community Member— Last Modified: 09/10/14, First Published: 11/28/09