Base Skull and Neck Pain

General Discussion on any topic relating to CPAP and/or Sleep Apnea.
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Base Skull and Neck Pain

Post by Treesap » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:03 am

Before getting on the hose, I had regular headaches which affected the base of my skull and neck area. They would last 3 days at a time. Ironically, they would start on Friday and last through the weekend.

When I first began CPAP therapy, they stopped completely. But now they are creeping back. I'm wondering if something is happening with my therapy.

Does anyone here deal with headaches centralized at the base of the skull and neck? If you do, have you related them to your therapy at all?

It's a terrible feeling to wake up with this pain. It really knocks me out. I have this today. I took 2 Extra Strength Excedrine hoping it will make a difference.

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art mom

Post by art mom » Sat Nov 10, 2007 11:39 am

I can't speak to location of headache, but I had horrible chronic headaches for several years before I started CPAP. The CPAP makes a big difference, and as you know the waking-up-with-a-headache headaches are the worst! However, I also have had good luck using supplements to control my headaches. These were recommended to me by a neurologist: magnesium, 400mg B2, and CoQ10. I also think that fish oil has helped my headaches. Do you think base of the head and neck headaches might be muscle tension related? If so, then I think magnesium might be worth trying. I think it's pretty safe unless you have kidney problems. Of course, I am not a doctor, so check with one first.

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Base of neck and head pain

Post by kteague » Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:04 pm

I had pain in this location for years and at times would cause me to feel faint, like things were fading away. Sometimes accompanied by pulsating sound. Saw a chiropractor for two years, as well as a neurologist. Had neck x-rays and MRI and CT scan of the head - nothing except a mild to moderately narrowed artery which shouldn't have caused the symptoms. Finally after three years I requested a new neuro doc referral and this doc did an MRI and MRA of the neck. Have bulging discs in the neck. This was long before cpap.

One thing I've noticed is that due to my discs and simply due to the musculature that runs from the base of the head to the shoulder, headgear can aggravate existing problems. Any tight straps around that area I can't tolerate - I'll wake up in pain, mostly because of the muscles.

Don't know if it is your problem, but any chance your headaches came back after switching to a mask with headgear straps stressing the back of your neck?


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Post by Namovicz » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:08 am

I have had this type of migraine for years. I have to say that it seems to be somewhat improved since being on CPAP but it is hard to say with any certainty since I have not been using therapy that long. I have high hopes for a permanent improvement.

I have had a good bit of luck with the meds my doc has had me on for a couple of years now (all prescription). Some of the meds are being used "off label" but anytime I try to change the line up I go back to having major problems. I hate taking the meds and I am sure I will be tempted to cut back now that I am on the CPAP. When I have gotten into one of those migrains that seems unbreakable (7-10 days), he usually puts me on a prednisone taper. That always breaks the headache.

I really feel for you, it is so excrutiating and life altering, but if you find a good combination of meds or vitamins it could be the answer you need.


dme daddy

Post by dme daddy » Mon Nov 12, 2007 8:35 am

Do you use a standard type nasal mask? The complaint of neck pain with headache from cpap patients is often related to their mask and the headgear. Here is the mechanism. Our heads swivel back and forward on their neck. On some patients the position of the bottom headgear straps in relation to that swivel causes tje bottom of the mask to become very loose when the chin is moved towards the chest and very tight as the head is moved away from the chest. The cpaper is subconsously aware of this and will, even when sleeping control the relationship between the head and the chest to get the proper tension at the bottom of the mask. This results in extreme tension in the upper neck muscles. Cpapers report the same symptoms as you as a result.

Most have no problem as the bottom strap of the headgear is above the neck hinge. If the strap is at hinge or below, there can be trouble. The best solution is to try to move to a nasal pillow system as these are not affected by the neck hinge. Trying to move the bottom strap up sometimes helps but the strap will usually return to the hinge effected position.

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Post by Treesap » Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:28 am

I use the OpPtilife, which is a nasal pillow. The other nasal masks were too claustrophobic for me.

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Post by blarg » Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:15 am

If you don't have software or a follow up sleep study there's no way to tell for sure what's going on. It could be so many things interfering with your sleep, or it could be another health problem entirely.

Do you wake up with a dry mouth? (This one is important.)

The first thing I would check is that your mask isn't on too tightly. When I had other masks that didn't fit me very well, I would end up cranking the straps down so tightly that I'd get a very apnoea-like headache in the morning.

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