Skip to content


    Exciting News for WebMD Members!

    We've been busy behind the scenes building new message boards for you. You'll have new and easier ways to find messages, connect with others, and share your stories.

    And, this will all be available on your smartphone or other mobile device!

    What Do You Need to Do?

    The message board you're used to will be closing in the coming weeks. While many of your boards will be making the move to our new home, your posts will not. Want to keep a discussion going? Save posts you want to continue (this includes your member profile story), so that you can re-post them in the new message boards.

    Keep an eye here and on your email inbox, we'll be back in touch soon to give you all the information you need!

    Yours in health,
    WebMD Message Boards Management

    Includes Expert Content
    chronic high neck/skull pain
    c20h10n2 posted:
    at varying intensities since 7/14/12. General Physician said "advil, it'll go away". Then, three days later, it was "migraine, see a neurologist".

    Neurologist sent me to ER for shots for migraine. Migraine and pain medicine (anti inflammatories, anti nausea) removed the pain for about 36 hours. MRI/MRA of the brain/head were clean.

    Pain remains. Tried Advil, ended up upset stomach and diahhrea. Went to orthopedic dr yesterday. X-rayed neck, said "mild arthritis in the lower neck. probably just inflamed. Go to Physical Therapy, and more Advil." I explained Advil doesn't work for me, his response was "nothing else is going to help".

    I'm at a total loss. It hurts to sit at a computer, and I'm concerned PT is going to make it hurt even worse. If the pain lasts all day at strong intensity, I end up throwing up.

    Looking for ideas on where to turn.
    77grace responded:
    Sorry to hear that you are hurting so bad!!!I to suffer from head and neck pain,no fun and Advil doesn't work!!!Which Dr. said that or was it the Physical therpist?I would try to go back to the Nuerologist and stand your ground about your pain and how Advil isn't helping!
    Hang in there,I'm here if you need me,77grace
    annette030 responded:
    I agree with Grace, go into the neurologist's office and tell him the Advil does not work, you need something else. If he suspects you are having migraines, there are non-narcotic meds that do work. I know, because I take some of them. Do not get up to leave, and do keep repeating yourself if necessary.

    Do your own research, and make suggestions to him. I use Medscape for medical research. Make sure you do use real medical sites, the doctors turn off their listening ears as soon as one brings up commercial sites and crazy treatment stuff.

    Do realize that narcotics are not generally used for migraines other than in injections in the ER setting, they can cause rebound headaches, not a good thing. So can NSAIDs if you take them more than three days per week. When I am having a lot of migraines I often rotate meds so I don't take anything that often.

    Whatever meds you are given, take them at the first sign of a headache, not when it gets really bad. The meds work far better that way.

    Take care, Annette
    c20h10n2 replied to annette030's response:
    I don't think it's migraine, though. The pain is sitting in the top of my neck/ base of the skull. And it just sits there, ranging pain anywhere from a 3 up to a 7 or 8, depending on the day.

    When I called the neuro last week and persisted explaining it still hurts almost all the time, he said "go see your GP, and take Advil." I tried... ended up miserable. Neck did hurt, but the rest of me sure did.
    Peter Abaci, MD responded:
    There are many different types of headaches, including migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. For example, migraine headaches are usually one-sided and are often brought on by triggers like certain foods, stress, or alcohol. Tension headaches usually start at the back of the head and spread up the scalp on both sides. They can be associated with things like stress, neck problems, and too much computer use.

    The best approach for you to take will depend on 1) the type of headache you may be experiencing and 2) on getting a sense of what the triggers or causes may be. I would suggest you ask your doctor of choice to go over these two basic questions with you in more detail, and I think that will make your treatment ultimately more effective.

    In general, activity and exercise is a good thing, even when we are in pain, so I don't think you need to necessarily be afraid of PT.
    c20h10n2 replied to Peter Abaci, MD's response:
    Thanks, Dr. Interesting.. See, I initially thought migraine, and then I started thinking tension from something actually being wrong with my neck.

    I've been trying to stretch gently all day today, and, if I push the stretch far (but slow), the pain subsides. THAT is something I can live with, at least until PT starts 9/4.

    Also tried a topical gel last night, with menthol and some herbal remedies in it. Worked pretty good. too bad I was shy about the smell at work today, or I would've used it again before departing for work.
    77grace responded:
    I know how miserable neck pain and Headaches can be!Had them for over 30 yrs!Did they do a MRI of you Neck???It sounds to me like it is coming from your neck!!Also try a heating pad ,then a pain rub,or Ice (Frozen pea's work great)
    Hang in there,77grace
    annette030 replied to c20h10n2's response:
    You might also try the Migraine, Headache Board here at WedMD, I used to go there a lot and found lots of good suggestions there.

    I don't deal with any doctors over the phone, it is too easy for them to shut you down. Just my opinion. I make an appt. and go in and see them in person.

    Take care, Annette
    c20h10n2 replied to annette030's response:
    Rough morning here... Hot shower, stretching, med freeze, fioricet#1, going to have to take a 2nd here pretty soon. I had three good days, did nothing out of the ordinary, and woke up again hurting today. grrr.

    No MRI of the neck yet. Ortho dr said PT first, and if it doesn't work, THEN MRI. After talking with another friend, if PT makes it feel worse and no better, I'll end up back at the ortho earlier than planned insisting on an MRI, or a referral to someone else. I asked Neuro why not MRI of the neck, he answered back "it's just migraine".. bull... grr.
    c20h10n2 replied to annette030's response:
    So! check this craziness out ...

    Went to the dentist for a routine cleaning / check up. bingo..

    Go Mister dentist! Says I'm grinding my teeth at night, clenching my jaw, and he's 98% certain that a nightguard is going to eliminate or seriously reduce the headaches and the neck pain.

    Also said he'll probably have me on muscle relaxers after I get a filling repaired and the guard fitted.

    It's still hurting pretty awful, and somehow I'm toughing it out ... I'll be sure to update again once the guard is in place at nights.
    HighnLoLita responded:
    Yes, to me it sounds like you need an MRI of your neck. I'm no dr but, I have pain that starts at the base of the scull/back of my neck then it seems to cause a frontal headache as well. I had an MRI of my neck and they found 2 bulging disc, degeneration and yada yada yada....after an MRI on my low back, they diagnosed me with degenerative disk disease. Advil does not work for me either. I am on Norco three times a day, lyrica, celebrex and a muscle relaxer and I still have pain at leaste 20 hours a day. Also I have cortizone shots that do help for a while but, the pain works its way through that in roughly two weeks...I also use a heating pad/cold pack 20 min on 20 min off, and a tens unit, that I love. I so hope you had better luck this week....Lita
    annette030 replied to c20h10n2's response:
    That sounds reasonable.It is following the usual diagnostic routine for neck pain. First an NSAID and PT, then later if one still has problems, a scan.

    Don't worry, just keep on with PT and whatever the doctor suggests.

    An MRI usually doesn't show much of value in neck pain or headache, I know, I have had plenty of them. I have actually had cervical spinal surgery, it did not help my headaches at all. Fortunately, I had the surgery for functional problems in my hands that I was having due to cervical disc problems, it did help that.

    I think having an MRI is fine if you are having functional problems, less sure if it is of much value in pain management. Maybe the doctor can weigh in on this???

    Take care, Annette
    HighnLoLita replied to annette030's response:
    Oh yes annette one should always follow what the dr orders but, I would think that if they don't do an MRI first Physical Therapy might hurt them and they could not really set up a proper program tailor to the individual with out it.

    Yes MRI does not measure pain but, it could tell where ones pain is and why they might be having such pain. I am not a dr or a nurse and my opinion is merely a opinion from my experience.

    On a personal note, don't forget to answer my question in my post b/c, now I really am interested to know your experience b/c you had surgery and you now sudjest not having it hhhmmm. :)ttyl...Lita
    annette030 replied to HighnLoLita's response:
    I personally think that MRIs are vastly over ordered. The studies have all shown that they are not good indicators for the cause of pain. Function, perhaps, but not for pain alone.

    I had surgery for loss of function, not to correct pain. My neurosurgeon felt it was too risky to do surgery for pain relief alone. I do agree with him. We have not found a way to determine who is a good candidate for surgery in the healing or cure of pain relief. I think I already responded to your other post.

    Take care, Annette
    fibrofran17 responded:
    Hi Annette, I could've written your post, same thing, same story.
    I believe the pain comes from the neck and spreads from there, I have a curvature that didn't show on the MRI's. I watched myself constantly to see where I was misaligning my neck and adding to the problem and finally I conclude it's the way I sleep, stomach, forcing my neck into a position that somehow hits some nerves and starts the whole pain process all over again, although it never goes away it's definitely worse in the morning. Check out your sleep position and then find a pillow to align your neck better when you sleep. Also, stretching VERY slowly and gently, the muscles in your neck will really help. For pain I take tramadol, very low dose, and my life is much better than before. Best of luck. your search will get you better, fibrofran

    Featuring Experts

    Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

    Helpful Tips

    Judging people with or without chronic pain
    I try not to judge people by anything they do if they aren't hurting themselves or someone else. Unfortunately, I know that I've been judge ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    1 of 8 found this helpful

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.