Mar 092015

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)
  • Squatting
  • 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.

  15 Responses to “Headaches Caused by Muscle Spasms – Feels Like a Migraine”

Comments (15)
  1. That sounds awful. I’ve dealt with migraines since I was a teen and nothing works for them.

  2. I feel for what you went through!! My doctor, at the time, didn’t recommend chiropractors. I’ll never forget after I had one of my babies, I dislocated my hip and I was rushed to an ER. One of my friends came to sit with me. A surgeon came in to talk to me about my options. My friend told me that I didn’t need surgery. She asked me to trust her that she knew someone that could help me. She took me to her chiropractor’s office. I was screaming in pain by this time. This miracle worker took me right away. He pulled no punches! He told me that this will hurt. A couple of twists and pushes later, my hip was back in its socket and the pain subsided! Chiropractors have helped me a few times, where doctors couldn’t! I am so glad you were helped! Thank you for sharing!

    • I’m so happy you found relief from a chiropractor. They (I have two) are my to go to for everything…I’d do a chiro long before I’d do any invasive bone surgery.

  3. I have the same problem. I have other medical problems also. I have had neck surgeries so I thought that was causing my pain and didn’t think about it causing my headaches. Thanks so much, I will look into some of these solutions.

  4. That sounds awful, migraines are the worst! I have severe neck pain that causes all kinds of other problems for me. I really should go see a doctor but I am not sure there is much of a cure for it. I think it is mostly caused by stress and possibly my RA.

  5. I suffer from daily headaches. I have not seen a doctor for them yet. I will be checking out what are causing mine.

  6. I had migraines when I was younger and the only relief for me was to try not to move and to sleep in a dark cold quiet room for as long as I could and then I would get some relief. It would always take a day or so to feel back to normal, but the immobilizing pain was lessened to where I could function. Thankfully they didn’t come too often and they went away on their own. I never knew why as they were infrequent enough that I didn’t go to a doctor. But, boy I feel for you and the many years you had to suffer with them. Worst pain, ever. So glad you found a solution that works for you.

  7. My best friend gets debilitating migraines, too. Sending prayers to you!

  8. I have had migraines and they stink! I used to have them all the time when I was on the pill but now after menopause thankfully not as much. Glad you found a solution to help you out. My husband gets headaches similar to the muscle spasms ones after he had a car accident and got occipital neuralgia from the airbag going off so when his muscles are tense or something sets it off he is miserable for days.

  9. I started having migraines during my last pregnancy. Not fun!

  10. I have both migraines and a fairly rare condition called Cardiac Arterial Spasms, which is spasms around the arteries leading to the heart. My cardiologist said that most people with CAS also have migraines.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

GDPR Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner