These tests can help rule in that migraine is coming from your neck

These tests can help rule in that migraine is coming from your neck

It has been shown that neck pain is a predictor of higher migraine-related disability. This means that if you have neck pain, it could mean you have more pain and dysfunction with your migraines.

Women with chronic migraine have shown to exhibit greater reduction on cervical spine mobility, referred pain to the head from symptomatic upper cervical joints, greater joint position error testing and worse head/neck posture than those with episodic migraine or healthy controls.

This article will take you through these tests so you can understand if your migraine could be coming from your neck.

  1. Upper cervical spine dysfunction as expressed by examining the C1-C2 segments. This is found by the flexion-rotation test.

2. Presence of symptomatic upper cervical spine joints.

3. The presence of referred head pain during manual examination of symptomatic segmental dysfunctions in the upper cervical spine

4. Cervicocephalic kinesthesia is defined as the ability to perceive both movement and position of the head in space related to the trunk, and it is usually measured by the joint position sense error test. Even though not as directly linked with people who have migraines, this could be a test you could have to determine if you have a head on neck orientation dysfunction.

5. Chronic migraine people exhibit altered muscle recruitment strategy to stabilize their head and neck manifested as an increased activity of their superficial neck extensor musculature when acting as antagonists during low-load isometric craniocervical flexion contractions

6. The previous 5 tests are specific tests provided by a trained clinician. I created other, more at home tests, that you can do to determine how your neck moves and feels while sitting or standing. This is a very specific description of where you should feel movements, and more importantly, where you should NOT feel movements! This can get down to the real cause of the how the neck moves, how you compensate and then create proper treatment plans.


Harrison Vaughan is a physical therapist and co-owner of PhysioFit of North Carolina. He provides physical therapy assessment and treatment of migraines and cervical pain in Wake Forest, NC. He utilizes patient education, vestibulo-ocular rehabilitation, ergonomic changes, dietary adjustments, cervical spine strengthening and/or mobility training, and local TMJ manual therapy procedures to help you.

Call us: 919-728-0335