Almost everyone has had a headache at one time or another, but migraines are not just bad headaches. There is so much more involved with them. In fact, they are a neurological condition made up of a group of symptoms. Migraines can be extremely incapacitating and cause one to have to lie down until they go away. Some of the most common migraine symptoms are:
- Recurring throbbing head pain that is quite severe
- Usually, only one side of the head is affected, but not always
- Attacks last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours
- Visual disturbances — flashing lights, blind spots, etc.
- Nausea often accompanied by vomiting
- Dizziness or a spinning sensation called vertigo
- Reactivity to bright lights, loud noises, and certain strong or offensive odors
- Tingling or numbness in the arms or legs or the face
What Causes Migraines?
There is a genetic component involved with the development of migraines. If you had a parent that got migraines, you are at a greater risk to develop them yourself. However, studies reveal that this is not the only factor. Environmental factors also play a huge role. Scientists have learned a lot about migraines in the last decade by using neuroimaging and research. At one point, it was believed the pain of migraines was just in the person’s head as scientists could not find a reason that the brain should feel any pain. At one point, the sinuses were to blame. Then, it was believed that the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head were the primary source of migraines. However, now it seems to be clear that migraines are neurological in origin, and they are connected to certain brain chemicals and nerve pathways. The central nervous system plays a role as well. The brain is not actually feeling pain, rather the pain comes from nerve fibers and blood vessels that are surrounding the brain. The pain flares up when blood vessels become inflamed.
Who Gets Migraines?
Approximately 39 million Americans — men, women, and children — get migraines. Women are 3 times more prone to getting them than men. Some people get episodic migraines, meaning they have them less than 15 days in a month. Around 4% get chronic migraines, meaning they have them more than 15 days in a month’s time. Boys get them more often than girls until they hit puberty. At that point, girls get them more often. This is an indicator that fluctuating hormones, such as estrogen, may be a trigger for migraines.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book Natural and Drug-Free Ways to End Your Migraines by clicking the image below.
What Else Triggers Migraines?
Besides hormones, there are many other things that can trigger migraine attacks. These include:
- Lack of sufficient sleep
- Certain foods
- Certain food additives — MSG, aspartame
- Caffeine — too much or too little
- Weather changes
- Some medications
- Fluorescent lighting
Some people try for years to figure out what their personal triggers are, as triggers are different for everyone. Sufferers keep migraine diaries, see headache experts, neurologists, general chiropractors, try lifestyle modifications, and new ways of care just hoping to find something to give them relief, but sometimes to no avail. Let’s take a closer look at what some care options are, and then we will talk about a natural, effective way to care for migraines.
Types of Migraine Care
There are more available ways than ever to care for migraines. There are new classes of drugs, natural remedies, and home remedies. But, if you are a migraine sufferer, you may wonder which one is best for you?
- First-step medication: This is used to care for mild to moderate migraines and often involves over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol, aspirin, and ibuprofen or a combination of these. If these aren’t effective, triptans, a medication that stabilizes inflamed and swollen blood vessels, may be recommended. There are cautions involved here for heart patients. Also, medication overuse headaches can develop, causing your migraines to become worse.
- Daily drugs: Taken as a preventative for migraines, these drugs were developed to treat other health conditions but were found to be effective for migraine use. Side effects of these drugs can be dangerous or unwanted.
- Wrinkle–free injections: Botox was recently approved by the FDA to care for chronic migraines. It works at freezing the muscles in the head and stops pain messages sent to the brain. As with any drug, risks involved here can be concerning.
- The do’s and don’ts diet: A neurologist at John’s Hopkins, David Buchholz, developed this plan.
- Don’t take any over-the-counter medications or decongestants
- Do what you can to reduce triggers
- Do use preventative medications (beta-blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants)
Finding Natural, Medication-Free Relief
An upper cervical chiropractor and researcher, Dr. Erin Elster, reported on a case study involving a 35-year-old woman who was a figure skater and began experiencing migraines after an accident at age 23. She suffered through 12 years of medication with very little relief. After getting upper cervical chiropractic care, she saw her migraines go away in just 3 months. After one year, she still reported having no migraines. This case study also reported on 100 others with similar results.
Here at Vital Life Wellness Center in Dublin, California, we offer our patients an alternative to taking medication. It has been seen that misalignments in the upper cervical spine, particularly involving the C1 and C2 vertebrae, can put pressure on the brainstem, a vital component of the central nervous system. When this happens, improper signals are sent to the brain. Another issue has to do with a hindrance of vital fluids, blood and cerebrospinal fluid, from reaching or leaving the brain. All of this can lead to migraines.
We use a very gentle method that does not require us to crack or pop the spine like traditional chiropractors do. We focus more on the upper neck and relieving the issues involved thereby helping the bones to move back to their original position. Once adjusted, we see similar results as those in the above-mentioned study. Our patients begin to feel much happier and healthier.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 925-829-7900 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.
Dr. Andrea Pritchett of Vital Life Wellness Center in Dublin, California is an Dublin Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Expert trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Her upper cervical clinic also serves Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon and Danville. She is uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck).
This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including children’s conditions such as ear infections, colic and scoliosis and problems that adults face including migraines and other headaches, fibromyalgia, sciatica, neck and back pain, and more. More information can be found on our website at https://www.vlifewellness.com/