Migraines from CPAP headgear

by B.W. Parker
(Tucson, AZ)

My Cpap machine mask has been binding up on the back of my neck at the base of my skull. Due to this I have been waking up at least once a week with migraines.

Is there any solution that you have heard of or know of to prevent this? I have tried placing a towel between the headgear and my neck but that does not always help.

Please help as these migraines are very debilitating.


The CPAP mask headgear can cause headaches and neck pain if the strap placement is wrong or the straps are too tight.

If I knew more information about your mask and headgear type, maybe I could help you more, but I'll give you now some general ideas which should be helpful for your CPAP migraine problem.

Some CPAP users use a rubber band and sometimes tape, to control the distance between the upper and lower straps from the CPAP mask. This is specifically to keep the lower strap away from the vertebrae. Therefore, the skull should provide the attachment point for the mask, and not the neck.

In any case, it seems that the headgear is the problem. You already tried to adjust it, to get a better fit, and it didn't work. So the next step will be to try a different type or size of mask.

Most CPAP users have the bottom strap of the headgear above the neck hinge. But if the strap is at hinge or below, there can be problems. The best solution is to try to change your mask to a nasal mask, as these are not affected by the neck hinge.

Here are some ideas:

  • Respironics ComfortLite 2 - is a minimal contact mask, has a headgear system that minimizes facial contact and reduces pressure points, the headgear also touches only the face at the forehead, at the brow line. And the strap does not sit on the cheeks.

    • is a minimal contact mask,

    • has a headgear system that minimizes facial contact and reduces pressure points,

    • the headgear also touches only the face at the forehead, at the brow line. And the strap does not sit on the cheeks.

    • CPAP Pro - no straps, but has a dental device.

    Furthermore, is important to know how tight are you wearing your headgear? If your mask headgear is too tight, this may also you migraine.

    I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

    Remy Thierry
    Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for Migraines from CPAP headgear

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May 16, 2016
Tight headgear
by: Anonymous

Thank you 4 the page on tight headgear. My problem is that the bottom causes so much pressure on the spine I novv have an indentation across that part! It hurts and have changed my pillovvs and vvrapped cloth around it but neither helped.

It vvas recommended and put in place by my respiratory therapist - I have a high bipap pressure and cannot change the mask or headgear 4 another 2 months because the insurance constraints hinder things.

The mask is great but the headgear is not. Suggestions?

Dec 28, 2018
Headgear strap at base of skull
by: Deb

I am in my second month of adjusting to my cpap machine. I am finding that the headgear is the problem. The strap across the base of my skull causes tight muscles there, radiating down into my shoulders and up into my head. It helps to loosen the strap, but them as the air pressure ramps up I am awakened by noise from air coming out from under the mask. It is a catch 22. I complained and the company I am working with had me come in and try a full face mask, but the headgear is the same and does not solve it. I tried to get them to lower the maximum pressure but said that could not be done.

Aug 25, 2020
Pain in the back of head and base of neck, dizziness
by: Anonymous

I know for sure that my CPAP strap is causing the pain in the back of my head and base of neck. I was in denial initially and blamed it on computer use. I stopped using the CPAP x3 to see if the pain would go away and it did. I have the air fit F10. Mask. I never had this type of pain before. My setting is 4-10.

Mar 24, 2021
Headache caused by mask straps NEW
by: Anonymous

I have exactly the same problem. Constant headache and earache.

Jun 08, 2021
pain in neck region NEW
by: Anonymous

I agree with all of the other people here, I have pain in my neck and also have an indentation. If I loosen the strap I don't get a good mask seal. HELP!!!!

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