How To Manage Chronic Neck and Head Pain

I have been having chronic neck, face, head, and migraine pain since January 2022. I have had migraine since I was 6 but this has been completely different and has rocked my world. I already follow a migraine diet but I have added tools to help me deal with this new level of pain.

Occipital Release Tool

I have a cervical disc bulge which is causing so much muscle tension. Because of this disc issue, my occipital muscles at the base of my head feel chronically tight and throb with pain. This Davinci occipital release tool feels like it gets right to each one of my pain points. Each side brings about a different release. I’ve also used this tool to get in between my shoulder blades.

Cervical Traction Pillow

This cervical traction pillow is amazing. It gently stretches my neck and I can literally feel space opening up in my upper back. It is 2-sided and each side provides a different level of stretching. You begin with a 5 minute stretch and work up to 20 minutes. If you have disc issues in your neck or upper back you absolutely need this tool.

Cervical Neck Traction Device

This cervical traction device stretches the neck in a similar way to the cervical pillow. The main difference is that you are upright and you control the amount of stretch by how much air you pump in. When I first used it I could feel space being created between the vertebrae of my upper back.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

I could barely get out of bed until I started working with a physical therapist. It was vital to help me get moving. I went from barely being able to get out of bed to being able to move around and manage the pain somewhat. They stressed posture exercises, stretching, and walking. It is hard to be motivated when you are in pain but it is vital to keep moving so your body doesn’t become stiff. It seems counterintuitive to move around but not moving just makes the pain worse.


I had an MRI early January. That MRI showed the disc bulge and I was sent in for cervical epidural injections. The first injection was extremely helpful in reducing the neck pain I was having. My neck had been hurting on and off for months. I had a follow up epidural injection and two occipital nerve blocks. I wish I could say they all helped 100% but each injection only helped a little with the pain. I am currently taking migraine medication, a muscle relaxer, and NSAIDS cautiously as needed.

Chronic pain is hard. In most cases, there isn’t a magic bullet to help relieve the pain but you have to do a combination of things just to try and live well. If you deal with this kind of pain I hope you find these tools helpful.

*This post contains affiliate links*

Easy Delicious Caramel Popcorn

This is a super quick and easy recipe with minimal ingredients.


*If you do not have brown sugar you can make your own using 1 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses*


  1. Make popcorn, salt to taste, and set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Once butter is melted add in brown sugar. Stir until combined and then cook on low heat for 5 minutes without stirring. Trust the process.
  4. Add in baking soda and cook for an additional minute. The baking soda will make the cooked sugar a bit foamy. This will allow the caramel to pour much easier.
  5. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir to cover popcorn.
  6. Lay out on parchment paper to dry for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

*This post contains affiliate links*

How To Get Enough Protein On A Limited Diet:

How can I get enough daily protein when I am limited in what I can eat?

This is a question I have asked so many times over the years. As someone who can’t eat eggs, beans, nuts, soy, game meat, or too much dairy, it has been difficult to get the right amount of protein in my daily diet.

**Read diet here as a way of eating, not cutting calories to lose weight.**

I have found that when my gut is messed up it is really hard for me to digest beef. I also find that sometimes the thought of eating more meat makes me not want to eat. Fish isn’t my favorite but I have learned to like smoked salmon and tuna. Below are ways I have found to add extra protein to my daily diet.

Protein Powder

Protein powder is a great way to get in extra protein throughout your day. I have been using this protein powder for a little over 2 years now. Levels Grass Fed 100% Whey Protein, No Hormones, Unflavored is the only brand of protein powder I have found that doesn’t kill my stomach or crash my sugar. Each scoop is 25 grams of protein. I buy the protein powder with no flavor making it very easy to add to things I was already making: fruit smoothies, home made pancake mix, oats and home made protein bars. *Whey protein does contain glutamate which is a form MSG. If you are sensitive to MSG consume sparingly.*

Tuna Packets

These Bumble Bee Light Tuna packs have 32 grams of protein per pouch. They come in a variety of flavors and are super easy for a quick snack by itself or to add to a meal.

Bone Broth

I started making bone broth when my kids were toddlers. It is easy and very affordable to make. There is about 10 grams of protein per cup of bone broth. I use it in soups and stews, to braise meat, cook grains, as well as drink it straight. When I don’t have time to make bone broth I usually buy Kitchen Basic Bone Broth.

Greek Yogurt

One serving of greek yogurt has between 13 to 20 grams of protein. Greek Yogurt is so versatile. You can add it to smoothies, mix with berries and a drizzle of honey, add it to oatmeal, put in baked goods, there are endless possibilities. My favorite way to eat greek yogurt to pair it with savory foods. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Charred Cherry Tomato with Cold Greek Yogurt is my absolute favorite recipe.

Beef Gelatin

I have been buying Aspen Naturals GrassFed Beef Gelatin for several years now. There are 21 grams of protein per serving. While it is not a complete protein, it does help the body use other proteins that you eat or drink. Aspen Naturals is unflavored and will dissolve in hot liquid making it very easy to use. You can add it to bone broth, soups and stews, blend in coffee, etc. Check out my fruit juice jello recipe.


Getting enough protein can be a challenge for those of us with food intolerance. There are a lot of ways to add more protein into our daily diet, these are just the ways I am finding that work for me. I would love to hear how you get enough protein in your daily diet.

**This post contains affiliate links.

Tigernut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies: Gluten-free & Grain-free

Tiger Nut Flour

These grain free and gluten free peanut butter cookies are made using my favorite brand Anthony’s Tiger Nut Flour. This brand is ground to be extra fine and isn’t as grainy as some of the others I have tried. Tiger nuts are not actually a nut but a tuber that grows in the ground. The flour has a sweet slightly nutty flavor. My absolute favorite thing about tiger nut flour is that it is one of the highest sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic fiber that feeds our gut bacteria. It is also paleo and keto friendly.

Nanny’s Recipe

The original recipe comes from my grandmother, who got it when she was 13 from her best friend’s mother, 65 years ago. She has passed down many recipes to me and this one has always been one of my favorites. The only alteration made to this recipe was substituting tiger nut flour for regular flour and adding in arrowroot flour. If you don’t have arrowroot flour you can use cornstarch or tapioca flour.


  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 stick softened salted butter
  • 1 cup tiger nut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside
  • Cream together sugars, butter, peanut butter and vanilla
  • Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients
  • Pinch off a thumb size (tsp) of cookie batter and drop onto greased cookie sheet
  • Dip a fork into arrowroot flour and push into each dollop of dough
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes
  • Let cookies sit out for 5 minutes to cool

This recipe will make about 30 cookies. Adjust cooking time to a bit longer if you use more than a teaspoon size of the dough. These are best when they sit for 5 minutes after baking. They will keep for several days in an air-tight container on the counter.

*This post contains affiliate links*

My Favorite Immersion Blender Under $40

As a home cook, I love a good immersion blender. Both lightweight and powerful, they can create efficiency in the kitchen. In this article, I will review the last three immersion blenders I’ve had over the past few years starting with my absolute favorite. 


First up we have the Royal 5-Piece Hand Blender Set [200 Watts].  It had a 2 Speed Food Processor/Chopper, Hand Mixer, Smoothie Immersion Blender, Whisk, and Wall Attachment. 

I first bought this immersion blender with attachments in 2017 for $35. By far the biggest pro is that this immersion blender and attachments lasted for five years. Yes, you read that correctly, FIVE years. I used each piece several times per week.  Below are other pros and cons about this particular immersion blender set.


  • Longevity
  • Multiple attachments.
  • Attachments lasted as long as the motor.
  • Easy to clean immersion blender because of the open design near the blade.
  • Whisk attachment made whisking super fast and easy.
  • Easy to store


  • Once the motor burned out I was unable to buy just that part.
  • Cup and food processor are made of plastic.
  • The biggest con is it is no longer available for purchase.


Coming in second we have Mueller Ultra-Stick [500 Watts]

This 9-Speed Immersion Multi-Purpose Hand Blender comes with Heavy Duty Copper Motor Brushed 304 Stainless Steel With Whisk and Milk Frothing Attachments

I bought this immersion blender in January 2021 for right around $35 after my Royal immersion blender broke.  I was unable to find the Royal brand and I wanted to come in under $40. The first time I ordered this product it was sent to me without the whisk attachment. I sent it back and received the correct product with each attachment. 

The biggest pro for me is that the Mueller immersion blender was very sturdy. However, the biggest con is that it only lasted 1 year and 1 month before the motor burned out. Below are the other pros and cons: 


  • Sturdy immersion blender.
  • Small milk frothing attachment.
  • Whisk attachment.
  • Available on amazon
  • Affordable.


  • Sent without whisk attachment.
  • Lasted a little over one year.
  • Attachment base made of plastic.

The attachment piece that connected the milk frother to the motor base was made of plastic. The plastic attachment split on one side about 2 months in after being used several times per week.

You can purchase the Muller Immersion blender here from Amazon. 


Coming in third and my least favorite so far is the Ovente Electric Immersion Hand Blender [300 Watts]

It has 2 Mixing Speeds with Stainless Steel Blades.  

I bought this one on February 20th of 2022 for $20. By far the biggest con is that this blender only lasted for 2 months. The motor burned out while I was blending a mix of peanut and almond butter. Not the nuts themselves but pre-made nut butter to get it blended well. 

I bought the Ovente Immersion Blender mainly because it got great reviews on amazon. Everyone who had one seemed to love it. Below are a list of pros and cons. 


  • Lightweight but had a heavier feel than the other immersion blenders.
  • Affordable.
  • Easy to store.


  • Motor burned out after two months.
  • No attachments.

You get what you pay for:

My biggest takeaway is that the old saying “You get what you pay for” is true in this instance. The least expensive, Ovente Immersion Blender, was the absolute worst out of the three for what I needed. It had great reviews which is why I pulled the trigger buying that particular item. I do think that if you are someone who needs an immersion blender once a week or a few times a month it would be the perfect addition to your kitchen. If you need something a bit sturdier that you can use multiple times per week I would steer clear.

I would definitely buy the Muller Immersion blender again. For the amount I paid and the number of times used it was a great deal for the money. It was sturdy and fast. It cut my kitchen prep time down a good bit and worked really well while it lasted.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Cervicogenic Headache: Cervicogenic headache occurs when pain is referred from a specific source in the neck up to the head. (

I woke up January 2nd with a tension headache coming from the base of the right side of my head. It was achy and felt different than the normal migraine headaches I deal with. I took an Aleve and a muscle relaxer that night and felt much better.

I woke up the next morning feeling a little achy still and as I was walking through my kitchen I felt a sharp stabbing pain go from the middle of my neck on the right side up through the top of my head. It was so sharp and painful that it literally took my breath away. My neck and shoulders were super tense. My neck felt swollen on the inside like something was very very wrong.

This achy, stabby pain was again very different from the normal migraine pain that I have. The normal migraine pain I deal with is so severe, one sided, and comes with a lot of other symptoms than just headache. I usually take my rescue meds, lay down and wait for the pain to subside which it typically does. I’ve had a few that I have needed to go get shots for….This was completely different and constant.

I began to have a pressure build in my neck, head and face that would weave in and out of migraine pain. The pressure and aching was constant. My right eye hurt. If I put any pressure on my right eyebrow it would send pain down the side of my face to my neck. The back of my head hurt, the side of my head hurt, the front of my face hurt, my neck hurt and nothing I was doing would make it go away.

My neurologist called me in a steroid taper pack because at this point we are thinking that I am having a migraine that isn’t responding to my meds. But something just felt wrong. The week went on, I took the meds. No change. I called them daily. Went in the see them- and called them throughout the weekend. Thankfully it was my dr. that was on call. I kept saying the same thing- something feels wrong in my neck: it feels swollen on the inside of my neck and the pressure and aching aren’t like anything I have experienced before with migraine. This is different. I need help.

I went in the following Monday morning and had two MRI’s done. One of my head and one of my neck. Turns out something was wrong- a pretty significant disc bulge at c5-c6. This disc bulge had created a ton of inflammation in my neck causing my neck muscles to basically over guard and compress my occipital nerve. I left with a prescription for pain meds and a referral to our local spine care clinic.

That Thursday I was seen by a spine specialist who suggested we do an epidural nerve block at the disc and then possibly an occipital block. I was scheduled for the next day. I have never had anything like this done before. I didn’t quite realize what we were doing so I decided to do it without sedation…never again.

The nerve block at the disc was super helpful. I didn’t realize just how long my neck had been hurting until it wasn’t hurting anymore. I have most likely been dealing with this disc issue for months without knowing that it was a disc issue. I kept going to my chiropractor for adjustments to this area because it felt swollen and I was having an uptick in daily headaches…..won’t be doing that anymore.

After the block I no longer have pain when I touch my eyebrow or back of head. My neck doesn’t feel swollen and doesn’t hurt in the area where it was constantly hurting. I am still having pressure in my head from the occipital muscles and headaches. My spine dr. referred me to physical therapy to see if I can get some relief in the occipital area before we try the occipital block. We are working on correcting my posture and a lot of trigger point release. The trigger point release is such a painful good feeling. We are trying dry needling on my next appointment.

One of the main things I have learned from this experience: You are your own best advocate. I knew that I wasn’t having a hard to break migraine cycle. I knew something was wrong inside of me. It was up to me to keep after it and to make someone listen.

Vestibular Migraine & Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Part 3

Part 3: Diet

One of the very first things we tried when my son was diagnosed with vestibular migraine in November of 2020 was a migraine diet. I read through Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz. We were already familiar with this diet because of my history with migraine but reading that book was a helpful refresher. He was on the migraine diet for almost 3 months and we didn’t see any improvement. We also didn’t see any clear connection or trigger of symptoms related to what he was eating.

We then tried a version of a keto migraine and still didn’t see a connection or improvement. After that, he put himself on a carnivore diet for 19 days eating only meat, a little dairy and a bowl of berries once a day. The only change we saw with the carnivore diet was that he was a bit more moody.

For a lot of people food triggers become very clear once they enter an elimination diet. For me it was evident that onions, eggs and nuts were huge migraine triggers. I was hoping we would see a link with my son as well.

In November of 2021 we ordered a Viome microbiome and cellular health test. We sent off stool and blood. They sent us back a list of foods he shouldn’t eat, what he should minimize and his superfoods based on the level of inflammation and types of bacteria in his gut as well as what his mitochondrial and cellular health showed. We are currently on day 40 of these recommendations. This has been the most helpful because it is specific to his body and we aren’t just having to guess.

Vestibular Migraine & Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Part 2

Part 2: What Therapy Has Worked and What Hasn’t

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These are things that have worked for my son under the advice and care of his drs. Please consult your doctor before trying anything written below.

Whenever my kids have gotten sick over the years I always grab a notebook and chart their symptoms, medication I give them, etc. I have done the same for myself in my own migraine journey. When my son woke up that morning sick I got out my notebook and began to chart. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how invaluable the daily tracking of data would be.

I used a notebook from August 2020 to the first week of January 2021. Then my husband set up google sheets and I switched over to that. I have over a years worth of daily data at this point. We track how he feels when he wakes up, at lunch and then again at dinner. We track how many times a day he throws up, what medicines he has taken, what time his medicine was taken, how much movement he’s gotten in, if he’s constipated, if he’s eaten any food that could be a trigger. This daily tracking has allowed us to see what has helped him and what hasn’t.

What has helped:

Each item below has been prescribed by my son’s neurologist.

Melatonin– This is one of the very first things we tried. We started him on 1mg and slowly moved up to 7mg. The melatonin didn’t help/hurt the dizziness or nausea he was experiencing but it did have a positive impact on how much he was throwing up. It cut down the episodes per night significantly. We did find that the more we went up in mg of melatonin the more irritable he became. 4 to 5mg seems to be the happy place for him. There is some evidence that suggests melatonin can work as well as amitriptyline.

Cyproheptadine– He began a 2mg dose of cyproheptadine at the very end of April 2020. By the end of June the daily dizziness went from every day to every 7 days when he was also having a migraine headache. Since then he will sometimes go 15 to 20 days with no dizziness and when it does come it only stays for a day or two. The main downside of this medication for him was the increased sleepiness. We went down to 4mg of the melatonin and now down to 3mg as we have upped the cyproheptadine to 4mg. We are hoping that in the next month or two we see a positive impact on the daily nausea.

Zofran- In the beginning Zofran was harder to use because it was causing my son’s headaches to be a lot worse. Once the headaches became less frequent and severe we have been able to add it back in.

Promethazine- This works really well as long as he can use it at night. The biggest downside is that it causes him to be very sleepy.

Naproxen- We have used this since the beginning when he has an actual headache. It has worked very well in treating head pain without having to be taken more than once a day.

Predisone- He has been given a few short doses of predisone throughout the past year. Each time it has lessened his symptoms because it cuts down on the inflammation.

IV fluid- Iv fluid seems to help with the nausea and also give him energy as it replenishes his electrolytes.

Electrolyte drinks- These help him not get dehydrated. Dehydration makes all of his symptoms much worse.

Ginger- Home made ginger ale, ginger tablets, ginger candy etc- it all calms the nausea.

Menthol- He sucks on Halls cough drops and peppermint to help calm the nausea.

Supplements– we have found the following helpful




Daily vitamin with iron

Omega 3


What hasn’t helped:

Nexium- He was put on Nexium by his pediatrician to try and help him eat and heal his esophagus. It just made him more nauseous and in turn throw up more.

GammaCore Sapphire- The gammacore device stimulates the vagus nerve. He began passing out more often after we started using the device. It really didn’t have an impact on the nausea, vomiting or dizziness.

Granisetron- This is used for nausea and vomiting. We saw that for him Zofran worked much better and faster.

Berberine- Before we saw an ENT we went to a functional medicine doctor who prescribed my son berberine. We had used naturopathic medicine before and didn’t hesitate to give him the prescribed amount. It almost killed him. It increased the dizziness and dropped his blood pressure dangerously low. When I told our pediatrician what happened his exact words- if that ever happens again go straight to the emergency room because of how low his blood pressure dropped.

Next up- Part 3: Diet

Vestibular Migraine & Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Part 1

Part 1: The Beginning

On August 18th of 2020, my 11 year old son woke up super irritable, tired and a short while later developed a headache. He began throwing up about noon that day. He continued to throw up for 3 days at which point his pediatrician diagnosed him with gastroenteritis. I need to say here that since he was a baby he’s had a terrible gag reflex and a few years ago dealt with gastritis for about a year- his doctors now believe he never had gastritis but that it was a precursor to vestibular migraine (VM) and cyclic vomiting (CVS).

On September 11th, he woke up with vertigo and dizziness that did not go away. He described it like this: The room was spinning to the left and he was spinning to the right. He couldn’t walk without our assistance. At this point the throwing up got bad. He began to throw up like clockwork every night between 8pm and 10:30pm. His pediatrician referred him to an ENT.

The ENT suspected vestibular neuritis after an ENG/VNG and caloric test showed that he had a 50% deficit to the left vestibular nerve. We also had an MRI done and that came back clean, as well as blood work to check for Lyme or any other infection. Everything came back normal and unremarkable. He was having so many headaches, almost daily. He described it as a pressure sensation. He was dizzy, nauseous and continued throwing up daily.

On October 5th he began vestibular therapy.  It was very hard on him. He began having vasovagal episodes – he would stop breathing and almost pass out during therapy. On the advice of his pediatrician and ENT we stopped the VRT and began doing stuff with him here at home- really stressing movement whenever possible. Both the physical therapist and the ENT felt that my sons case was complex and that there were possibly multiple things going on at one time.

Our ENT wanted him to be seen by a neuro-otolaryngologist and a pediatric neurologist. At the beginning of November 2020 the neuro-otolaryngologist redid the ENG/VNG and caloric testing. The repeat testing showed that he now had a 27% deficit. He said he believed 99.9% that he has vestibular migraine but that he didn’t work with pediatric patients and to follow up with pediatric neurologist. The pediatric neurologist ordered a CT scan to look at the blood vessels of his neck and head. All came back clean.

The pediatric neurologist told me that he didn’t agree with the diagnosis of VM. I asked why he didn’t agree. His response: 1. He wasn’t having classic migraine headaches and 2. the symptoms were constant -even though they varied in severity from day to day- therefore it couldn’t possibly be a form of migraine. He had also never seen a pediatric case of VM. He told me we would have to find another dr. This was a pretty devastating conversation. That day I ordered a book by Dr. Shin Beh, Victory Over Vestibular Migraine. I read the entire book in 2 days. My son had almost all of the symptoms laid out in Dr. Beh’s book.

I spent the next week trying to find a pediatric neurologist who had an understanding of VM. I didn’t find anyone so I took to twitter. I reached out to Dr. Beh and asked for help trying to find a pediatric neurologist who could help us. Within a short time he responded and took my son on as a patient. Our first consult was on December 11th 2020. He confirmed the Vestibular Migraine diagnosis with cyclic vomiting variant and Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

At that point he had a daily, 24/7, constant low level of dizziness and nausea. It varied from day to day and some days were better than others. We began treatment December 2020 focusing on natural methods at first: diet, supplements, and melatonin.

Other symptoms that he has experienced intermittently:

-His vision goes blurry.

-He has episodes of serious brain fog and he will say I just can’t think right or concentrate on anything.

-He has also described seeing things in his visual field that just aren’t there.

 -Every now and then his ears will ring-He has episodes of deep ear pain about once a week- anatomically his ears are fine. 

-He will have pain just randomly in his body . 

-He had about a month of on and off neck tightness before all of this happened. 

 -He describes this sensation of body parts not being where they should be.

-Moments where he feels like he’s about to pass out. 

– Passing out and being lightheaded.

At the end of April 2021, we began a small dose of Cyproheptadine to try and get the daily nausea and dizziness under control. By the end of June the dizziness went from chronic (daily) to acute – only during a migraine attack. This felt like a huge win! The nausea however, has persisted and goes up and down daily in varying degrees.

At the end of October 2021, he passed out in the shower and then later again that same week while riding his bike. This led us to a diagnosis of POTS. I will write about that in another post.

In December of 2021, we upped the amount of Cyproheptadine to try and get the nausea and vomiting under control. It usually takes about 3 months to see any form of therapy help. We have also added in Zofran daily. This has probably been one of the hardest years of parenting I’ve ever been through and I know without a doubt it has been the hardest year of my sons life so far.

Next up-

Part 2

Fruit Juice Jello


My son loves jello. We have recently had a virus go through our house providing the perfect opportunity to make home made jello.  This jello is made with two ingredients: fruit juice and grass fed beef gelatin.  Gelatin is soothing for sore throats, help when healing for the gut, and has protein. This takes about 5 minutes to make and a couple of hours in the fridge to set.

My favorite gelatin to use is this gelatin from Aspen Naturals:img_5694


  • 4tbsp gelatin
  • 4 cups organic juice


  • Pour 1 cup cold juice in bowl
  • Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice, mix together and let sit to bloom
  • Heat remaining 3 cups of juice until it begins to boil
  • Pour hot juice into bowl with gelatin and stir until gelatin dissolves
  • Pour mixture into one container or several small ones and put into the fridge to set
  • Eat and enjoy

You can also make this with half the amount of juice and use water for the remaining amount of liquid.  You can also add fresh fruit to this jello as well as cream.