Prevalence of neck pain in migraine and tension-type headache: a population study

Cephalalgia. 2015 Mar;35(3):211-9. doi: 10.1177/0333102414535110. Epub 2014 May 22.


Background: We assessed the prevalence of neck pain in the population in relation to headache.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, a total of 797 individuals completed a headache interview and provided self-reported data on neck pain. We identified migraine, TTH or both migraine and TTH (M+TTH) groups. Pericranial tenderness was recorded in 496 individuals. A total tenderness score (TTS) was calculated as the sum of local scores with a maximum score of 48.

Results: The one-year prevalence of neck pain was 68.4% and higher in those with vs. without primary headache (85.7% vs. 56.7%; adjusted OR 3.0, 95% CI 2.0-4.4, p<0.001). Adjusting for age, gender, education and poor self-rated health, in comparison with those without headaches, the prevalence of neck pain (56.7%) was significantly higher in those with M+TTH (89.3%), pure TTH (88.4%) and pure migraine (76.2%) (p<0.05 for all three group comparisons). Individuals with neck pain had higher TTS than individuals without neck pain (15.1±10.5 vs. 8.4±8.0, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Neck pain is highly prevalent in the general population and even more prevalent in individuals with primary headaches. Prevalence is highest in coexistent M+TTH, followed by pure TTH and migraine. Myofascial tenderness is significantly increased in individuals with neck pain.

Keywords: Neck pain; migraine; population; prevalence; tenderness; tension-type headache.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology*
  • Population Surveillance* / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report*
  • Tension-Type Headache / diagnosis
  • Tension-Type Headache / epidemiology*