BIG change

Happy New Year all!

I’ve been waiting a while to report back on what has occurred because as we all know with this migraine crap, it could all just be some weird and unexplained remission (and it might be that still!), and I could be right back in the shitter before I know it.

I have always known that my neck is a MAJOR player in this ongoing migraine drama but it appears I had been missing a key spot. Migraine activity triggers neck pain for me and neck pain triggers migraine activity. It’s a positive feedback loop that is a one way ticket on the hell express if not interrupted.

While in Japan in early November and after 3 days of walking miles around Kyoto and taking a lot of photographs with a new dSLR and rather heavy 135mm Canon lens, I started feeling really bad. On top of that, the pillows I was sleeping on over there were hard – filled with beans or something – sort of like hard bean bag sacks that you could mold but still like concrete really after you’d been lying on it for a few hours.

Anyway, I was a mess after Kyoto. Neck and head was in pain, head was super fogged up, I had some BPPV-like symptoms one morning that lasted for the day with my eyes moving all over the place, always felt tired, sleep screwed up, light and sound sensitivity … blah, blah – it was the full monty. So about a week later we stayed with friends and they had this really cool leather recliner that was all sort of S-shaped. I kicked back in that looking at the city below and then started having a prod around my neck to see how bad things really were. I went to the area I always do and that is a trigger point or knot right at C2 on the upper right side. Agony of course. And then I ran my index finger down the LEFT side, which I normally thought was unremarkable really. But I hit a bump there at C2-3 and holy crap was it ever sore when I dug a little deeper. Everything had been sore many times before so I thought none of it previously. This time, however, I decided to really get stuck into that one knot knowing full well it could send me off the rails for days with dizziness and so I kept the pressure on and moved my finger over that knot about 25 times until my eyes were watering and until it let go and the pain was much reduced.

Off to bed I went and in the morning it was like a new dawn. Clarity and the miserable prickly feeling gone and all the other crap was reduced considerably but still low level. Once back in Sydney I went to the physiotherapist and told him the story and to please focus on these so-called trigger points. He found 3 of them all up but by far this C2-3 area was the worst. So I saw him twice and kept at it myself in the evenings after work.

So over Christmas, my threshold for migraine has risen DRAMATICALLY. I was drinking booze and coffee, and eating chocolate with no massive fallout. Not perfect of course and it’s still there but this is to the point where I feel like I’ve been let out of jail and can go a little bit crazy and not pay with my left arm for a change. It appears that the one trigger point on the left side has been ground zero for years and I was unaware.

So I would encourage any of you who think your neck is messed up, has painful knots in it (trigger points) to see if having that looked into and relieved removes a substantial migraine trigger. Of course I still have to live the lifestyle otherwise my neck will easily fall apart again, especially now that I’m back at work and staring at a computer screen all day. I’m moving as much as I can with frequent breaks to avoid any more neck seizures.

S :smiley:

1 Like

This page is a simple explanation about trigger points in the neck and how to self-relieve them which is what I was doing in Japan when it had got really nasty. There’s probably good stuff on YouTube as well but haven’t looked yet.

Great news Scott; way to ring in the new year:)!

My neurologist prescribed physical therapy and I also get a monthly massage; this has been helping and I’ve been feeling much better too (I’d say something like 90% most days). Yay to celebrating every health success!


Great Lisa. Have there been any trigger points in your neck you were aware of?

Lisa- great to hear you are feeling so well! How much to do you think the cymbalta is helping you?


what do u mean by neck trigger points? The left side of my neck has been stiff for years. Do u think that could be a trigger point? What does your physiotherapist do to your neck to relieve your trigger points?

Nabeel - click on the link I posted above. You spend a lot of time in front of a computer right? Very fertile ground for trigger points to develop. S

Great news Scott. Interesting that it helps with the dizziness as well as the pain. How do you feel ‘brain fog’ wise?

Please keep us updated as I’d really like to know if it works for you in the long term. Fingers crossed!

Sometimes all it takes is a bit more attention on the simple things, brought to our attention by a change in lifestyle/random reasons and then we start to feel better. I really hope this neck C2-3 problem heals a major trigger point for your migraines and I’m really pleased to hear that you can relax a little and enjoy life without paying arm and neck for it the following days. Happy New Year to you Scott!

Scott, I have tights spots mainly in my shoulder and also in my upper back; I can feel the knots. I’m going slow with the physical therapy plus I need to do my stretching exercises which can really help; I’m awful with exercise routines! My neck’s range of motion is awful; my traps hurt! What you did sounds quite painful…Hmmm…will have to think about it…My physical therapist tells me it’s possible to get rid of spasms and my massage therapist says she’s only known of one person with none whatsoever-an Italian. I do believe that I need to strengthen my back and keep working out the spasms.

Sarah, Cymbalta is used for depression and neurological issues. Both my GP and the neurologist could see I needed both (they saw me cry) and I’ve had no side effects. My neurologist lowered the dosage to 20 mg. and I won’t see her again for a few months. Right now, Cymbalta and physical therapy is working. I’m also dieting and taking supplements; regulating my sleep has been a huge challenge with the holidays.

— Begin quote from “Andrew”

Great news Scott. Interesting that it helps with the dizziness as well as the pain. How do you feel ‘brain fog’ wise?

Please keep us updated as I’d really like to know if it works for you in the long term. Fingers crossed!

— End quote

Heya – brain fog gone. :smiley: I definitely get heavily fogged up with a bad neck.

Cool beans Scott! I’m happy for you.


Thanks for the food for thought. My neck also plays a big role in my loop. I, too, always thought the problem was confined to the right side, but for Christmas I gave myself 4 massages and it turns out that there are some pretty hefty trigger points on the left side of my neck as well. I need to learn more about how to address the trigger points myself (thanks for the link) and I may try acupuncture, which might be covered by my insurance. I would love to get to the point where I could have a great big latte again and not pay for days :smiley:

Don’t waste your time with acupuncture. You really need to either get someone who knows what they’re doing to get stuck into those trigger points and literally force the muscle to let go in there or do it yourself once someone shows you how. It really does work this way. I was given a whole lecture on the physiology of these muscle spasms by my physio. After you have some work done on the points, some heat needs to be applied afterwards to prevent the muscle from contracting back right afterwards. Muscle has memory for these spasms and it takes a while to make it stay relaxed.

Second, there are a lot of nerves etc that come out of the spinal processes in the upper cervical region. My physio told me that when trigger points are all flared up and red hot it causes heightened sensitisation around the brain stem and basically irritates the hell out of everything. For us migraineurs it can = a big trigger and a lowering of migraine threshold. It’s exactly how I experience it.

Muscles need a lot of blood flow to maintain their health. Trigger points in the neck or anywhere for that matter greatly reduce blood flow and so pain develops as metabolic waste products are not cleared and the muscle is just not happy from lack of blood.

Thanks Scott,

I have worked on trigger points for an injured shoulder myself, so I think I can figure out how to work on the trigger points in my neck with time, but it would be great if I could find a good therapist to get me started. I didn’t know that I needed to apply heat right after working on the trigger points. When I had therapy on my shoulder, I think the therapist worked on the trigger points, then used ice, which sounds like it would be a bad idea. I think I’ll talk to my daughter’s PT the next time she goes in for her knees (with three teenage athletes in the family, we have met lots of area physical therapists, one of them must be good with necks).

It also really makes sense that neck pain would be a migraine trigger since the nerves so close to the brain would be inflamed, but I hadn’t thought about it that way. There are an awful lot of us in the forum with neck issues.

Thank you, thank you for all the time and information you put into this forum. It has been both informative and comforting, plus it’s fun to have my middle-aged friends wonder how in the heck I know a hip young Australian guy who knows all about MAV.

Mary Lee

Do you think past injuries could make a difference to getting MAV/MAV being triggered later on in life? I have had a couple of severe head blows in my life and wondered if they could have caused longterm damge to my neck?

Glad you are feeling better Scott :smiley:

Hi Dee,

Yes, this is possible. Trauma can be the thing that starts all of this crap whether via a blow to the head or neck or viral damage – even BPPV.


Hi Scott,

Have you ever tried trigger point injections? I ask because I’m currently in PT to restore the curvature in my neck/bulging discs. I have a tremendous trigger point in my occiput, right side, that has never released despite years of working on it, physical therapy, massage, you name it. The physical therapist has suggested I next try trigger point injections.

This spot, when massage and poked, also triggers a hook like pulling sensation arching over my head to my hairline. If it gets really bad, tingling will spread down to my right eye… Usually after a long day of computer work. Some days I swear I’m tempted to open myself up, dig in with my finger and pullllllllllll.

My only respite is wearing a hat–it compresses the tingling and pulling sensation. I’ve now have been wearing hats for 6 years, and even sleep with them on as the sensations increase when I lie down. Good times :?

Not sure if doing the injection will aggravate my current episode of dizziness/imbalance/symptoms.


Hey Mark,

Sorry to hear you have that nasty trigger point that won’t release. I had no idea I had one at C2-3 all this time! How the hell I missed it I don’t know but man am I glad I have found what appears to be a very big fish to fry.

I am surprised that yours won’t release despite having PT work on it. I sort of assumed that they all release if smashed enough with someone’s thumb etc. What a drag. Thanks for bringing up the injection plan as I hadn’t heard of this but cannot see why it’s not worth a go if nothing else works. It’s clear to me that trigger points can be and, for me, are SIGNIFICANT chronic migraine triggers. I’m still gob-smacked over how things have suddenly shifted for me having released that point in early December. I feel like a born again migraineur! Is there a religion for that? :lol:

Is there any way that you have any other as yet unidentified trigger points in your neck? I ask because I have another one at C2 as I mentioned on the right side. This one NEVER stopped killing me no matter how much it was mangled. It now appears that as long as the queen of trigger points was active, there was no way one earth the other one at C2 was going to let go. Now that C2-3 has been defused, C2 followed right behind it. No more pain shooting down into my scalenes either.

Unreal how a trigger point(s) can set off all of this weird neurological stuff huh?


BTW, I had that non-curved thing going on in my neck. Once I had things loosened up in my neck, the natural curve came back pretty fast well before this particular trigger point was released.

Injections…hmmm…Good to know that there are other options to deal with the alien in my neck. The PT is working slowly but surely and my neck has loosened up on one side, so there’s hope for the other side:)! I’ve been feeling well enough to take diet chances like having avocado, bacon, and olives all at once! Next step to increased improvement: regular stretching and exercising (I believe that developing a strong core, including neck and back muscles will be critical to my health). BTW, Scott, when you get your six-pack, you must post a picture or change your avatar for the ladies :wink:!