Q. Can cervical stenosis cause migraine-like symptoms?

Answered by
Dr. Nene Devavrat Harihar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 03, 2021

Hi doctor,

I have questions about the symptoms in my neck. I have ligament laxity and mild stenosis in C4. I get headaches and nausea. Sometimes, I have migraine-like symptoms and nerve pain, but not always. Currently, I am taking Meloxicam.

Kindly help.



Welcome to

It looks like you have overlapping symptoms of migraine (nausea and headache) and cervical canal stenosis (neck pain). However, I would need more information about your symptoms.

1) How many migraine attacks do you get?

2) Any radiating pain to your arms?

3) Any difficulty in walking?

4) Do you have any bladder problems?

5) Is there any weakness in your arms?

Kindly take Paracetamol for your pain.


Hello doctor,

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I agree. Can those migraine-like symptoms make you feel ill? Also, very seldom, I get some vertigo. Additionally, the ligaments and joints are hypermobile, and some of the pain and symptoms are alleviated by traction done by a physiotherapist.

Occasionally, the pain radiates to my arm and back. I do not have any difficulty walking or any other issues. My MRI says that there were some bone spurs in my neck.




Welcome back to

Migraine can have an aura of different symptoms like headaches, malaise, and fatigue. If you notice that these symptoms fluctuate and are usually followed by headaches, these can be related to your migraines. Vertigo can also be a part of the migraine attack or can occur because of stenosis. There is nothing much that one can do about cervical canal stenosis, which contributes to your symptoms. Apart from doing regular neck physiotherapy and strengthening exercises, we can prevent the attacks from getting good relief. To avoid attacks, the first step is to regularise your schedule, do regular activities and, if required, take tablet Paracetamol as soon as you begin to notice a headache. If the attacks persist, you can try tablet Amitriptyline 10 mg one tablet at night for three months.


Hello doctor,

Thanks for the reply.

You make some interesting points; thank you for the feedback. I feel like it is stenosis-related because the traction or relieving pressure on the neck gives a level of relief for all the migraine-like symptoms. They also seem to be directly triggered by posture or sleeping position. Can you tell me more about the medications that you recommended?




Welcome back to

You may notice worsening migraine attacks because of cervical spondylosis. These occur possibly due to overactive neck muscles. It can be at times difficult to distinguish the two. Cervical canal stenosis can give rise to unilateral headaches related to neck posture and usually associated with neck pain. These headaches occur at the back of the head and are not associated with any aversion to bright light or sounds, as very commonly seen in migraine. Migraine, on the other hand, causes throbbing, mostly unilateral headache with nausea or vomiting. As mentioned earlier, these can be triggered by cervical spondylosis. You can see that these can be difficult to differ significantly when they overlap. I mentioned Amitriptyline. It is an antidepressant used to prevent migraine attacks, especially when the frequency of headaches is more than 15 episodes per month. Avoid it if you have any underlying heart condition, glaucoma, or seizures.


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