More common among men and women in the 25-to-55 age group, migraine headaches can be a serious distraction for anyone who experiences them. In fact, more than 90 percent of those who experience migraines are unable to function when headaches like this occur. While most people focus on easing the symptoms, the actual source of these powerful headaches, which sometimes affect vision and the ability to speak, is often overlooked. One contributing factor that may not be on your radar is back pain. The trusted Beverly Hills spine surgeons from The Spine Institute offer a closer look at the possible connection between migraines and spine-related pain.
Studies Linking Back Pain and Migraines
Previous research suggests a connection between migraines and chronic low back pain (LBP) that works both ways, meaning people with migraines are more likely to experience LBP and people with LBP are more likely to have issues with migraines. Another study involving more than 13,000 Danish twins evaluated over several years showed that participants with the highest risk of developing migraines had reported issues with lower back pain when the study began.
TMJ, Back Pain, and Migraines
A possible link between lower back pain and migraines could be temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. TMJ is an inflammation-based condition that affects jaw muscles and nerves. The purpose of the jaw is to balance the body’s head-neck system. If an imbalance occurs, muscles that stabilize both the jaw and neck may be affected enough to trigger spine pain. TMJ may also overstimulate the largest of the 12 cranial nerves (the trigeminal nerve) enough to trigger tension headaches.
Muscle Spasms, Back Pain, and Migraines
Another theory is that inflammation of the small joints that support the spine (facet joints) or degenerative spinal arthritis in older adults could contribute to muscle spasms. These involuntary contractions sometimes lead to tense muscles around the base of the skull, which may result in migraine headaches.
Acute Spine Trauma and Migraines
Among younger individuals, sudden (acute) trauma to the spine sometimes results in migraines. One possible reason for this result is chronic pain resulting from damage to spinal joint cartilage due to acute trauma such as a hard blow from sports or a direct fall. A potential side effect of ongoing pain is migraines.
Cerebrospinal Fluid Disruption
Back pain that includes migraines may be caused by problems with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear, colorless liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. If a leak occurs, it sometimes naturally heals. If the healing process is slow, migraines may be experienced. A CSF leak may also develop after a lumbar puncture is performed.
You may not see the importance of visiting a spine specialist if you have recurring migraines without a significant history of back pain. However, if you’ve tried other remedies without much success, you may benefit from a thorough exam that includes looking for possible issues affecting your spine in some way that may need attention. You’re also more likely to benefit from a treatment plan that addresses the actual cause of your headaches, not just the symptoms.
If you’re experiencing consistent back pain due to migraines or any other reason, you may require surgery. Reach out to The Spine Institute today, where Dr. Hyun Bae can help you determine the most appropriate course of action, whether it’s a fusion procedure or a Mobi-C artificial cervical disc. Beverly Hills patients can call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.