Most migraine patients report neck pain as part of their migraine symptomatology, but it is unknown whether triggering neck pain would induce migraine attacks. Our aim was to assess the occurrence of headache and/or neck pain after an endurance test of the neck muscles among migraineurs and controls.
Sixty-five patients with migraine and 32 headache-free participants underwent a manual examination of the cervical spine by an assessor blinded towards the diagnosis and were sub-classified according to the appearance or absence of neck pain. Subsequently, the endurance of the neck flexors and extensors was tested three times, in a random order. The maximum sustained duration was recorded and the test was terminated when the subject was unable to maintain the position or reported pain. On the day after the assessment, participants were asked to report the potential occurrence of headache or neck symptoms.
None of the controls reported headache after assessment, while migraine-like headache was reported by 42% of the patients with migraine ( < 0.001) after 15.8 h (SD: 10.0). Neck pain was more prevalent in migraineurs compared to controls (45% vs. 16%, = 0.006). When considering the neck pain subtype, there were no differences among the three profiles regarding neck pain but participants with referred pain to the head reported a migraine attack more often (45%, = 0.03).
Patients with migraine are more likely to report neck pain and migraine attacks following a neck muscle endurance test. Participants with neck pain referred to the head during manual examination had a greater prevalence of migraine attacks than those without or with only local pain.