Migraines are classified as headaches but as anyone who’s ever had a migraine knows, they are truly in a class by themselves. With a lot of headaches, people just tough it out or take an over-the-counter pain reliever and keep going. With a migraine, very often the one who suffers has no choice but to put life on hold and seek a dark, quiet room.
What Is a Migraine Headache?
A migraine is a headache that can cause debilitating pain. It is typically accompanied by several other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and more. Obviously, these headaches make it difficult to function in work or in life.
Migraines generally recur in what are called episodes or attacks. They often follow a specific pattern, going through four very common stages before the episode fades away.
The Four Stages of a Migraine
While a migraine headache typically manifests itself in these four stages, not every person experiences all four:
- Prodromal (also called premonitory). These two terms refer to early symptoms which precede the more obvious, diagnosable symptoms of a migraine. Prodromal symptoms can show up one or two days before the migraine and include constipation, mood changes, food cravings, nausea, difficulty sleeping, problems concentrating, increased urination.
- Aura. Aura also refers to symptoms leading up to the migraine. Visual and other sensory phenomena are common, including bright flashes or spots, blurred vision or vision loss, difficulty speaking, slurred speech, difficulty thinking or understanding others.
- Headache. It can last from a few hours to three days. Physical movement and lights, sounds and smells make it worse. The person’s neck may be stiff. There can be nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression or anxiety. Pain may throb or pulse on one or both sides of the head.
- Postdrome. Once the pain lets up, the person may feel exhausted, depressed, confused and unwell. Or they could feel elated. Sudden movements of their head could make the pain return. This state may last for one or more days.
What Causes Migraines?
The causes of migraines are not well understood. They may be related to female hormonal changes since women get migraines more often than men do. There are several typical triggers for migraines:
- Stress or anxiety
- Bright lights
- Strong smells
- Missing sleep
- Missing meals
- Jet lag
- Weather changes
- Salty or processed food
- Aged cheeses
- Some food additives
What Natural Methods Relieve Migraines?
While there are several drugs that may or may not help migraines, any drug has side effects that may be undesirable and unpleasant. For that reason, many migraine sufferers seek out natural methods for relieving their migraines. The following information on natural methods of relief may help you leave migraines behind.
Chiropractic Adjustments for Migraines
Chiropractic adjustments have long been used to relieve migraine headaches and resolve their underlying causes. Adjustments relieve pressure on the nerves that travel from the spinal column to other areas of the body, particularly the head, neck and shoulders.
The correct alignment of these upper vertebrae relieves tension and allows for normal nerve function. Misalignment or tension in these areas can contribute to migraines.
Chiropractic adjustments also restore the normal curve to the neck. With proper alignment in this area and no abnormal tension, it is only natural for posture to improve which relieves stress throughout the upper body.
With today’s lifestyles, it is easy for these areas to get locked up since many of us stare at computers and phones for long periods and do not get enough stretching.
Acupuncture, Dry Needling and Pressure Point Therapy
While these three options are somewhat similar, there is a difference in how they are used. Acupuncture and dry needling both use needles to restore normal function. Acupuncture addresses the body’s energy flows, referred to as meridian lines, and dry needling is a similar technique focused directly on loosening tight, painful muscles.
Pressure Point Therapy (also referred to as Trigger Point Therapy) can be used to relieve sore, tight points in the body that may contribute to migraines or other poor function anywhere in the body.
Many people use these three related techniques for relief of migraines.
Nutrition and Herbs
Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to migraines. One study found that levels of riboflavin, vitamin D or coenzyme Q10 were low in a high percentage of people with migraines. Some people find success adding magnesium supplements to their diets. Herbal practitioners may recommend feverfew for migraine sufferers.
More Effective Help
There are other effective actions you can take to reduce your migraine headaches. Many people keep journals of their actions and foods consumed so they can determine what might trigger a migraine. And dietary and lifestyle changes are often necessary but have a big payoff—fewer or no migraines!
If you need help relieving migraines, Dr. Dusty can help with chiropractic adjustments, nutritional recommendations, Pressure Point Therapy and advice on diet or lifestyle changes. Just give us a call at (314) 635-1008.