Headaches Caused by Muscle Spasms – Feels Like a Migraine but Isn’t
There are many types of headaches. There are many causes of headaches. If you’ve been wondering why migraine medication isn’t working for you; could you possibly be suffering from headaches caused by muscle spasms? As a sufferer of these types of headaches for nearly 20 yrs. now, I’d like to share my experience.
You see, I used to wake with a major headache every day that went on for months on end. I would’ve welcomed someone taking a drill to my head to relieve the pressure and pain. I would still welcome a drill to my head if I manage to set one off today; however – I now know enough of what I need to do to make them go away.
So what sets the muscle spasm headaches off (for me)?
- Simply sitting down in a chair
- Anything that requires the use of my upper back muscles/lower neck muscles (painting, shoveling, carrying grocery bags, lifting heavier items such as boxes)
- Not sleeping with my neck-support memory foam pillow
- Sleeping/lying down too long
- Not getting up from my desk every 30 minutes or so
- Sewing at my sewing machine
- A new desk chair that doesn’t set the same as the old one
How I got to be where I am today:
My OB-Gyn took me off birth control. That did nothing for me. So I went to see my primary care physician.
After seeing my primary care physician and being given all kinds of drugs that did pretty much nothing other than make me sleep, sleep, and sleep; I was sent to see a Orthopedist.
He performed many types of tests, including a nerve test. He had no answers for me. I was then sent to see a neurologist.
The neurologist performed a battery of tests. She gave me different medications. Back then, Imitrex was new on the market. She gave me a script for home injections but made it clear to me that if I wasn’t experiencing a true migraine that the injections wouldn’t do a thing for me. And that they didn’t – other than to cause me anxiety every time I needed to stab myself.
She then ordered a Cervical Traction Device where you fill the bag with water, hook the strapping up to your neck/head and dropped the bag, which is hung over a doorway. That device actually felt pretty good…seriously! I would ask to be hooked up to that whenever someone was around to help me.
Amongst seeing all the docs – I frequented the ER for relief more than I want to think about. I was given Stadol Nasal Spray on more than one occasion. I loved that drug, but it wired me so much that I couldn’t sleep. Severe sweating became an issue. The drug was addicting. At the onset of it wearing off, I needed more. I wanted more.
Had I stayed on that drug I would be a full-blown addict of it. You see, shortly after coming off it I learned that the drug was more addicting than cocaine and heroine…no wonder I wanted more! That was my first experience as to what it would feel like to be addicted to a drug and it wasn’t a good feeling.
Then for some reason I needed to go to the chiropractor. I was telling him about the headaches. He said, “I can help you.” Really? Let’s do it! He worked on my neck. I went back every couple of weeks for adjustments and over a few visits I had some relief. I could now tell where the headaches originated from – the left side of my neck.
The muscles from the top of my left shoulder upward into the neck and side of the head…I could feel them ache/throb (at the time, I had no idea that a feeling like that was considered spasming). Though, the relief wasn’t 100%. He suggested I invest in a memory foam pillow with neck support. I got one! That’s how badly I wanted to get rid of all the pain. The pillow did help a bit; though – I was still waking every morning with a headache that would proceed to worsen as the day went on.
So I went in to tell my physician what I was doing. She suggested I try taking 800 mg. of Motrin and 10 mg. of Flexeril, along with an ice pack to my neck, when I first felt the muscles spasm. Well – go figure! That worked! I finally got them under control to where the headaches were tolerable and not as frequent. At a follow-up appointment she suggested I take 10mg. of Flexeril when I went to bed at night – to see if that would keep them at bay longer. Sure enough – it worked! I no longer awoke with a headache.
Nearly 20 yrs. later, I’m still doing the same regimen. I take the meds at the onset of feeling the muscles spasm, use my pillow, and if I can’t get the pain to subside to where it’s tolerable – I take another Flexeril (muscle relaxant) and lie down with an ice pack. I still frequent the chiropractor.
Once in a blue moon – like every 6 months – I will suffer with one that keeps me down for a day or so. If I find that I am feeling a lot of tightness within my neck muscles day after day – I know it’s time to see the chiropractor again.
I will tell you that when I was experiencing the headaches – I had given up hope on ever getting any relief. I thought I was doomed with living the rest of my life in major pain. Now I look back and think about how I had helped myself by seeing all the specialists, along with running my mouth to the chiropractor and listening to my body. Sometimes it really does take a village to make things work out for the better.
Do you suffer from headaches that feel like your head is ready to explode in which migraine medicine doesn’t do much for them? Maybe you’re having headaches caused by muscle spasms too.
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