Rates of fibromyalgia in the US stand at about 1-2%, with women disproportionately affected, or at least more commonly diagnosed with the condition. Fibromyalgia, neck pain, and migraines often occur in combination, with many people initially putting the pain and tension down to stress and failing to get a proper diagnosis from their physician.
Determining if neck pain is connected to migraines can be tricky as the early signs of a migraine, including problems with vision, may affect posture and cause muscle tension and stress. Those suffering from pain tend to adopt a smaller, tighter posture as a kind of protective mechanism and this, in turn, may lead to unusual stress and strain on the joints and the spine triggering neck pain. Fibromyalgia sufferers have a lower pain tolerance than most people and so what might be a fairly mild headache with neck pain could result in agony for these patients and see them bedbound for several days. Prevention is, as always, the best approach.
Causes of Migraines, Neck Pain, and Fibromyalgia
Food sensitivities may have a role to play in managing fibromyalgia, migraine, and neck pain symptoms, especially as fish and dairy appear to be common triggers for fibromyalgia symptoms. Other things that patients often report as triggering migraines or flare-ups of fibromyalgia include: coffee/caffeinated beverages, food colourings, aspartame and monosodium glutamate, and chocolate. Migraines may also be caused by citrus fruits, carob, alcohol, and iced water or icy foods.
Magnesium for Migraines
Ensuring adequate nutrition is vital for those with migraines, fibromyalgia, and neck pain. Particular attention should be paid to magnesium intake as this tends to be low in those with chronic migraine conditions as well as muscular aches and pains. Aiming for an intake of 400mg/day appears sensible, based on research from the New York Headache Center. This can be achieved by including a wide variety of the following foods in the diet:
- Soybeans (especially as fortified tofu)
- Wheat bran and wheat germ
- Peanut butter
- Brown rice
- Pinto beans
- Pumpkin seeds
Food triggers can cause migraines, and other symptoms, even a day after eating that food. This can make it difficult to attribute symptoms to diet but it can help to keep a food and symptom diary and track migraines, neck pain, and fibromyalgia flares that way.
Getting enough sleep is also vital for managing symptoms of fibromyalgia as this is the time when the body can relax muscles and help heal and regenerate tissues. Chronically tensed and stressed muscles can lead to permanent posture changes that then adversely affect bone and joint health. These may contribute to the early onset of arthritis and neck pain. Keeping stress levels as low as possible is also important when managing fibromyalgia, migraines, and neck pain, as is simply staying hydrated and eating regular, low glycaemic index meals.
Sun-Edelstein, C., and Mauskop, A. (2009). Foods and supplements in the management of migraine headaches. Clin J. Pain, 5:446-52.