Migraine is a full body experience. Before, during and after an attack many people have body pain, including body aches, neck pain, facial pain and allodynia. The pain ranges from mild to severe, and can vary from person to person and attack to attack. Sometimes head pain will come along with body pain, but it’s possible to experience these symptoms and never have head pain at all. This symptom is very hard to cope with as it can make even the simplest daily tasks difficult to complete.
People with migraine often experience body aches. This pain can be a sign that an attack is coming, but it can also last during an attack and for hours and even days after it is over. It may feel like muscle weakness, heaviness or soreness. For some, the aches may be confined to a specific part of the body, like the back, shoulders, neck, legs and/or joints. Some describe it as feeling “fluish” or “hungover,” with an overall sense of achiness throughout the entire body.
Neck pain is a common body pain symptom, and is especially common for those with chronic migraine. Neck pain is often thought of as a migraine trigger, but it is more likely that it is actually a migraine symptom—often one that indicates an attack is coming. Neck pain is quite painful and can be extremely debilitating because it decreases range of motion and can severely limit activity level. Some may have occipital neuralgia, which is a specific type of headache that causes intense, shock-like pain that typically begins in the neck and radiates upward.
People with migraine may also experience intense pain in their face. This can often be confused as sinus, dental or orofacial pain and lead to inappropriate treatment. Those with cluster headache often experience severe unilateral pain in the head and face. Some may also have trigeminal neuralgia, which is a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve that causes pain that ranges from sudden, severe, and stabbing, to a more constant, aching, burning sensation.
Those with migraine may also experience allodynia, a type of neuropathic pain that causes extreme and painful sensitivity to touch. With allodynia, things that don’t normally hurt become extremely painful. For example, something as simple as taking a shower or combing one’s hair may cause intense pain. Allodynia is a common migraine symptom, and may be an indicator of episodic migraine becoming chronic.
Managing Body Pain
Coping with body pain can be tiresome, draining and difficult. It’s important to listen to your body and rest if you feel these symptoms coming on. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you experience this type of pain, as he/she may be able to offer specific treatment options.
You can also try a mix of the following to manage your pain:
- Invest in a good pillow
- Be careful not to strain downward while reading or looking at your phone or electronic device
- Engage in healthy lifestyle habits—get moderate exercise, prioritize sleep, manage your stress levels
- Avoid known migraine triggers
Other treatments that may help include:
- Nerve blocks and trigger point injections
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory and other medications
- Medical devices for migraine
- Heat/ice packs
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic care