Migraines are a little-understood condition. However, some current research is being aided by advances in technology which allows us to see the link between how the brain and central nervous system work together. A previous theory about migraines had to do with the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in the head. This was thought to be the main source of the pain being felt during a migraine. This led to certain medications being used to focus on the blood vessels. However, the most recent research is now focused on the fact that migraines are neurological in origin and involve brain chemicals and nerve pathways.
Migraines are not just bad headaches. Rather, they are a collection of neurological symptoms that can be extremely disabling. Migraines usually include the following symptoms:
- Throbbing and pounding head pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and noise
- Visual disturbances
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities or the face
In two-thirds of people with migraines, only one side of the head is affected. These symptoms often last for 4 to 72 hours. Everyone is different and may experience symptoms differently. Sometimes symptoms vary from one attack to the other.
Interesting Fact About Migraines
- As many as 12 percent of the population — men, women, and children — suffer from migraines
- Women experience migraines 3 times more often than men
- Migraines are most often seen in the age ranges of 25 to 55
- Migraines are genetic — as many as 90 percent of people who have them have family members who also suffer
- As many as 4 million people have chronic daily migraines and experience migraines at least 15 days during a month’s time
- Around 25 percent of people have an aura — a visual disturbance that comes on before a migraine
Common Triggers for Migraines
Migraines are known to be brought about by certain factors. These things do not cause a migraine but rather set up a situation where a migraine is likely to occur. Finding out what they are and how they may impact you personally can help you to avoid these things and possibly have fewer headaches. Keeping a diary and writing down what happened before a migraine set in can help you find what your particular triggers are. Below are some common triggers:
- Changes in daily routines: Things such as changing sleep patterns, changes due to long journeys, or similar adjustments to your normal routine can contribute to migraines. Even if these are good changes, such as taking a vacation, you may find yourself dealing with a migraine.
- Stress: Anxiety, shock, excitement, and tension can all lead to migraines. However, a reduction in stress, called a let-down or a weekend migraine, can also cause problems.
- Sleep: Too much or too little sleep can be blamed for migraines. After a sleepless night or a number of late nights in a row, a migraine may ensue. Others find that sleeping in or taking naps can have a similar impact.
- Caffeine: Too much caffeine is a trigger for migraines. Another problem is stopping drinking caffeine all at once rather than gradually. It is important to be aware that caffeine can be found in chocolate and other food products as well as over-the-counter painkillers.
- Hormonal changes: This may be why women experience migraines more often than men. Some find migraines linked to their menstrual cycle. Menopause is also a time when migraines can occur.
- The environment: High humidity, weather changes, barometer changes, high altitudes, loud noises, and glaring or flickering lights can all be reasons for migraines to occur in some people.
- Computer screens: Sitting in front of a computer while at home or at work for a long time can cause migraines. Be sure to take regular breaks, have good lighting, and use anti-glare screens.
- Food: Some people have particular cravings before a migraine hits, such as sweet foods and chocolate.
- Not eating: Missing meals or eating sugary snacks instead of a healthy meal can bring on migraines. This can lead to blood sugar spikes and lows.
- Additives: MSG, nitrates, and aspartame are known triggers.
- Cheese and alcohol: Red wine has tyramine — an ingredient linked to migraines. Tyramine is also found in aged cheeses, such as brie and camembert.
- Dehydration: Try to keep well hydrated.
Finding Help for Migraines
A misalignment in the bones of the upper neck may be an underlying reason for migraines. This is something that is often overlooked. However, if either the C1 or C2 vertebra becomes misaligned, it can put the brainstem under stress. This is because those bones were designed to be a protection for the brainstem, the communication highway of the body. If it is negatively impacted by a misalignment, it may send improper signals to the brain. A misalignment here also acts as a type of block to the proper flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid and hinders it from reaching and leaving the brain in the proper amounts.
Here at Evoke Spinal Care in Pleasant Hill, California, we use a gentle method to realign these bones and relieve the pressure being placed on the brainstem. We are not required to pop or crack the neck to get positive results. The technique is natural and allows the bones of the neck to move back into place on their own. This leads to a longer-lasting adjustment. Many report seeing a decrease in their migraines after just a couple of visits. Some see them go away and not return.