Though we don’t yet fully know why, it’s common for those with scoliosis to also report frequent headaches and other migraine symptoms.
Millions of people live with scoliosis, a disorder that causes a curve in the spine. Scoliosis can significantly affect your posture, muscle tension, nerves, and more, which can lead to a handful of symptoms.
Scoliosis symptoms can differ depending on the type and severity of the condition.
While there isn’t much research on the link between scoliosis and headache pain, if you have the condition, you may have a higher incidence of headaches or migraine episodes than those without the condition.
Below, we’ll explore what the research says about scoliosis and migraine episodes, including how treatment can help address the symptoms of mild and severe scoliosis.
Scoliosis, or an atypical twisting or curving of the spine, can cause a wide range of physical symptoms. Symptoms often differ depending on how severe the condition is, but may include:
- uneven shoulders, hips, waist, or ribs
- raised areas in the back and shoulders
- rotation in the spine
- neck and back pain
- difficulty breathing
Research on the link between scoliosis and migraine headaches is limited, but some of it suggests that scoliosis may predispose you to headaches or migraine episodes.
In one older study from 2014, researchers investigated the rate of comorbid conditions and overall quality of life in 390 participants with idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is a type of scoliosis with no known cause.
Results of the study showed that 31% of the participants reported having at least one other health condition. Migraine was one of the most common conditions reported, affecting a little over 10% of the participants with comorbid conditions.
Several other case studies have also noted a possible link between scoliosis and headaches.
But because larger clinical studies are lacking, it’s difficult to say exactly how common this symptom is in people with scoliosis.
Still, even though there’s not much research on the subject, there are a few possible explanations as to why scoliosis might cause headaches.
One reason is that scoliosis can cause posture changes, leading to strain and unevenness in the muscles near the head, neck, and shoulders. Inadequate posture and muscle tension in the upper body can possibly lead to tension headaches.
Another possible cause of scoliosis headaches and migraine episodes is changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that surrounds and protects the spinal cord.
Some people with scoliosis also have other health conditions that affect CSF flow, and research suggests that both
There’s not a lot of research on the topic of scoliosis and neurological symptoms, especially in scoliosis with no known cause.
One of the factors affecting scoliosis symptoms is the type of scoliosis.
People with neuromuscular scoliosis — which can develop as a result of neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy — experience symptoms of the underlying neurological condition.
Scoliosis severity can also affect the type of symptoms you might experience.
For example, mild scoliosis might not cause neurological symptoms, but severe scoliosis can cause symptoms like nerve pain, weakness, and even bowel and bladder issues.
If you’ve been experiencing scoliosis headaches, treatment may help reduce these types of symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
Each of these treatment options can help support the muscles and possibly correct the curvature of the spine, which may help prevent headaches and migraine episodes.
Severe cases of scoliosis often require spinal fusion surgery to straighten and correct the spine.
If you have severe scoliosis, you can benefit from some of the treatments mentioned above to help support the body during and after recovery.
Learn more about getting relief from chronic migraine episodes here.
Research on the relationship between scoliosis and migraine symptoms is extremely limited, with only a few small studies and case studies showing a link.
But the changes in the spine caused by scoliosis may increase the risk of symptoms like headaches and migraine episodes.
If you have scoliosis and have been experiencing migraine headaches, consider contacting a doctor, as treatment may be able to help relieve your symptoms.