Stress/anxiety triggering chronic migraine/muscle pain

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New Member

Date Joined Jul 2017
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 7/21/2017 12:29 AM (GMT -6)   
I have suffered from an anxiety disorder for most of my life and developed a chronic migraine disorder 7 years ago. I experienced my first migraine during a particularly stressful semester in school, and they haven't gone away since. I usually begin to experience migraine symptoms right before an important event (exams, deadlines, air travel, etc.). The frequency of my migraines (sometimes as often as 2-3 per week) means that I cannot afford to take time off, and instead work (inefficiently) through the pain. This has been my reality for the last 6 years and I'm pretty miserable.

I have tried countless drugs and only find relief from triptans, although these also are hit and miss and generally don't work if the attack is particularly bad. My migraines are also almost always associated with extreme muscle tension and pain isolated to the side of the body experiencing the headache (i.e. the right side of the neck and shoulder, with migraine pain isolated behind the right eye). For some time, I believed that there was a serious muscular or skeletal problem, but MRIs and X-Rays only show the presence of scar tissue. NSAIDs do not touch the muscle pain, and the one time I was prescribed an opiate by an ER doctor, I also felt no relief. I sometimes experience tingling and weakness in my extremities on the side of the body that is in pain.

I've begun to take notes on the headaches/muscle pain and have noticed a distinctive pattern. When I am on vacation or not having to meet for an exam for my program, I can go weeks without a migraine or episode of extreme muscle pain. This leads me to believe that I am experiencing some sort of maladaptive, physical response to stress. Personal stress triggers, such as fear of not performing to my academic standards, seem to immediately send my body into a mode of panic and I am left with pain that only intensifies my stress and worsens the situation (now I've got to deal with my own insecurities and intense, unresponsive pain).

I'm sure that not all of my headaches are migraines -- some are probably tension headaches that become migraines with time. But... whatever they are, they are ruining my life. I've tried meditation and other stress-reducing techniques to no avail. Has anyone had experience with similar symptoms or have advice for dealing with a migraine disorder that is seemingly psychosomatic/brought on by stress? It's quite odd that on say, summer vacation, I experience 3 migraines a month, and that during a typical school month, I can have as many as 20 days affected by migraine. Is this all in my head? Thank you!

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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16796
   Posted 7/21/2017 8:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Applebrandy, considering you have anxiety issues it sounds very much like your anxiety is triggering your migraines. You get in stressful situations & bam instant migraine. The muscle tension can go with anxiety & the actual migraine. My suggestion is get some medical help to deal with your anxiety, consider seeing a psychologist for starters. Talk therapy can be very beneficial to people for many different type of conditions. I had horrible migraines 20 plus years & often was hospitalized over night to get rid of them. I also worked in a very high stress job that kept them triggered too. After 20 years I left that high stress job & had a great reduction in the migraines. My point of sharing this is so you will see how stress can trigger one. Are you on any meds for your anxiety?

Healing Well also has a very active anxiety & panic forum with a lot of great members. You may want to check out that forum. Take care.
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2011
Total Posts : 60
   Posted 7/21/2017 8:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello applebrandy and welcome to HW smile

I've suffered with anxiety for years with seizures and bipolar.

I've had headaches for years off and on and the pain can spread, the more stressed we get the worse the pain gets besides where it triggers in the body..what actually causes this is muscle contraction and the more stress and anxiety which comes at we at the time the tighter the contractions get plus they cause spasms, which does become painful.

I take Diazepam only 5mg but it does settle my head and slows the cell ceptors in the brain but for the extra pain if my methotrexate can't handle so much is I take paracetamol 500mg tabs which helps relieve the pressure besides the spasms.

When you told to change your routine and make things less stressful, I've found at times they still come at we for some reason.

Diagnosed with MCTD (Mixed connective tissue disease)

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