A migraine is one of the most prevalent illnesses worldwide. It affects nearly 15% of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
While there’s currently no cure for migraines, there is hope for migraineurs. We now have a better understanding of migraines, what causes them, and how to prevent and manage the symptoms. Apart from conventional medications, there are now alternative therapies, such as chiropractic care, that help patients lead a normal, healthy life.
But first, let’s take a look at some key facts about migraines:
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a neurological condition that causes intense, stabbing pain typically on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, fatigue, and the inability to concentrate. It affects people of all ages. It is typically diagnosed using tests, symptoms, family history, as well as additional tests to rule out other possible causes.
A migraine headache may either be throbbing (pulsing sensation) or dull and steady. It can start off as mild but, without treatment, could lead to a chronic migraine. The pain usually affects the forehead area and can last for hours and even days.
Chronic migraines can take a toll on many aspects of your life, from work and school to leisure and socialization. It can limit your ability to be efficient at work or everyday tasks. You may also become overly sensitive to noise and light, which could eventually cause you to skip social gatherings altogether. Severe headaches can also affect your appetite and ability to get mentally and physically fit. Because of these debilitating consequences, many people with chronic migraines report feeling helpless, frustrated, and even depressed.
Chronic Migraine Causes & Risk Factors
Anyone can develop chronic migraines. Take a look at the causes and the different factors that increase your risk:
- Hormones – hormones in women make them more prone to develop it than men. Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can cause fluctuations of estrogen in the body that put women at greater risk.
- Medications – medications such as oral contraceptive and hormone replacement can also increase your risk of developing migraines. Drugs such as sleeping pills, naproxen, ibuprofen, aspiring, triptans, and medicines that contain caffeine can cause rebound headaches, as well.
- Food – there are certain foods that can cause migraines. Beverages with alcohol and caffeine such as wine and coffee can trigger migraines, so can cheeses, salty and processed foods, and MSG-induced dishes. Skipping meals or fasting may put you at risk as well. You should also watch out for cured meats, fermented food, and food and drinks with artificial sweeteners.
- Family history – migraines can be hereditary. If there is a member of your family who gets migraines, then there is a good chance that you may also develop them.
- Age – migraines typically occur during your teens but can begin at any age. They tend to peak when you are in your 30s. As you age, they gradually become less severe and less frequent.
- External factors – environmental factors can also bring about migraines. These include stress, bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells, change in weather, and physical activities. Lack of or too much sleep and jet lag can trigger migraines in some people too.
Chronic Migraine Symptoms
Migraine symptoms have four stages, but not everyone who has migraines undergoes all stages. The four stages are prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Let’s break them down:
You might see these signs one to two days before an oncoming attack:
- Mood changes
- Stiff neck
- Food cravings
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
Symptoms in the aura stage are reversible and are typically visual. Symptoms tend to build up over several minutes and can last up to an hour.
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensation in the arms or legs
- Seeing various shapes and lights
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable jerking and other movements
- Numbness of the face or one side of the body
If untreated, attack migraines can last up to 4 to 72 hours. Frequency varies from one person to another. Sometimes, it hardly ever strikes, and other times it happens several times a month.
- Pain on the side of your head, either one side or both
- Throbbing and pulsing pain
- Sensitivity to various external factors such as light, sound, smell, and touch
- Feeling nauseous
- Tendency to vomit
Considered as the hangover stage, post-drome can happen 24-48 hours after an episode.
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of comprehension
- Feeling of elation
- Sudden head movement may bring the pain again
What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?
Migraines are more than just a headache. The former happens when the blood vessels in the brain expand, while in a regular headache, these blood vessels narrow. The tissues surrounding these vessels swell and can be quite painful. Headaches typically happen in the head, face, and upper neck with varying frequency, duration, and intensity. Migraines are more intense.
What are alternative migraine treatments?
Alternative therapies for migraine refer to treatments that are outside the scope of conventional medicine. The options are wide-ranging, from acupuncture, stress management, and diet changes to electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback and even botox. Chiropractic care is another popular alternative to pharmacological treatment. Most of these therapies are based on the premise that prevention is better than cure.
How can a chiropractor help with migraines?
A chiropractor is a medical professional that specializes in treating neuromuscular disorders. Chiropractic care can help with many conditions such as joint and muscle pain, sports injuries, and back pain.
Migraines can happen when there is an irregularity or misalignment in the spine that leads to muscle tension. It also results in irritation of the nerves that control the blood flowing to the head. Chronic migraine treatment using the chiropractic approach can help you experience shorter, less severe migraines at rarer times. In some cases, it can even cut down the number of migraines you get to half.
Chronic Migraine Treatment with Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors treat migraines using various physical therapy methods. Using gentle, non-invasive, and non-addictive procedures, chiropractors reduce the inflammation of the affected joints and reduce misalignments in the spine. These adjustments will then help ease the pain and other symptoms caused by migraines.
Keep in mind that a chronic migraine treatment plan would vary from one person to another. Your chiro will take several things into account, such as your age, the type of migraine you have, and its frequency, severity, and duration, and what other symptoms you experience. It’s crucial that you disclose whether you have other health conditions and if you are taking medications.
A chiropractor may treat your migraine through neuromuscular massages or a multidisciplinary care intervention. The massage will focus on trigger points on your body such as the back, shoulder, and neck. Care intervention, on the other hand, uses physical therapy exercises, various relaxation techniques, and dietary counseling.
The chiropractic approach involves intensive regular treatments and sessions to address the root causes of a patient’s migraine. While results don’t happen overnight, the effects can be long-term and more sustainable than prescription drugs. Many patients have reported reduced attacks in as little as a month of chiropractic care.
When to See a Chiropractor
While there are safe and effective drug treatments for migraines, consulting a chiropractor is a great alternative if you don’t want to be reliant on pain medications. If you have frequent attacks and they keep getting worse even with drug treatments, it may be best to consult a chiropractor.
Chiropractors take a holistic approach on how to treat a migraine to increase its effectiveness. Before you visit a chiropractor, it would be useful to have a detailed record that shows how often you experience migraines and how painful they are. It’s also best to find out if anyone in your family has developed migraines.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Migraine Patients
Chiropractors are trained practitioners who can assess, diagnose, and treat migraines. Chiropractic care has provided favorable results of decreasing a migraine’s frequency and severity. It uses various methods that treat the source of a migraine rather than tending to it once it has already begun. Here are some of the benefits of chiropractic adjustments that ultimately help with migraines:
- Strengthen spine muscle
- Restore normal blood flow
- Reduce tension in the muscles
- Restore nervous system functions
- Decrease irritation in the nerves responsible for sending pain signals to the brain
- Boost the body’s natural healing capabilities
- Identify triggers to help in prevention
LifeClinic: Your Partner for Recovery
Regain control over your life and enjoy the things you love with the help of our seasoned chiropractors. Make us your partner for recovery through our comprehensive chiropractic care for migraines and other bodily pains. Find a LifeClinic near you today to start your road to recovery.