When was the last time you had a headache? Perhaps it was it was last month, it may have been a few days ago, or maybe you have one right now! Headaches are a well-known and common discomfort that most people experience in their lives. They can range from a dull discomfort the morning after a few too many alcoholic beverages to an intense migraine with a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Our focus in this post is to more closely examine migraines, a severe condition that millions of people suffer from each year.
Phases of Migraines
To determine whether or not you are experiencing a migraine there are a few key components that distinguish them from other types of headaches. The most unique thing is that there are four different phases:
The predrome phase is characterized by subtle changes that are indicative of body chemistry changes. They may include secondary conditions (symptoms) such as constipation, depression, irritability, craving of certain foods, or possibly a stiff neck. These changes serve as a warning of a beginning of an episode and signal a person to take action. Acting quickly may stop an episode before it becomes a full-blown migraine.
The aura phase is unique to migraine headaches. Aura describes the visual, auditory, or speech disturbances experienced by a migraine sufferer. There may be flashes of light, sensitivity to sound, or inability to speak clearly. Thankfully, most people do NOT experience an aura during an episode and therefore have what are called “common migraines.” Those that do experience an aura have “classic migraines.” These symptoms can typically last anywhere from 20-60 minutes.
In the pain or attack phase there is typically a one-sided pain that is experienced in the head. In some cases the pain involved both sides of the head (bilateral). The pain usually occurs after the aura phase is over and can last anywhere from one to 72 hours.
The postdrome stage is the phase of decreasing secondary conditions and pain and the onset of fatigue. Migraine sufferers usually report feeling rundown and worn out. They are similar to the ones experienced in the predrome phase. Things such as head/neck pain, digestive issues, mood swings, and even mild euphoria have been noted.
How is it that some people can eat the salty or processed foods that can cause migraines without issues while others avoid them entirely because they would cause a migraine? Or, why do some women get migraines that occur during their menstrual cycle while other women don’t experience them at all?
There are varying causes for migraine headaches. However, a common theme is that they rely on the body’s inability to adapt to its environment. In part, migraines can result from a chemical imbalance. That is why they typically come on during menstrual cycles, after consuming certain things such as aged cheese, processed/salty foods, or alcohol. A period of prolonged stress can also trigger an episode.
Proper communication of messages to and from the brain are critical to how your body perceives and is able to adapt to its changing environment. As you may know, there are tiny webs of nerves surrounding the vessels that allow blood to pass into the outer areas of your skull. When the electronic signals to that area are obstructed (via a structural shift in the spine), the result is a release of an excessive amount of blood into the outer area of the skull – resulting in a migraine. Even if a migraine is triggered by a glass of wine, the primary cause is typically a structural abnormality.
What Are My Treatment Options?
There are various trigger for migraines just as there are a variety of treatment options. The most common is over the counter medications such as Excedrin. Typically, if that fails to work, someone would obtain a prescription that may help lessen the chance of a full-blown migraine when in the predrome phase. This may also help decrease the effects of secondary conditions in the aura or attack phases. Acupuncture has also been shown to decrease the frequency and intensity of migraines. If those options don’t work, more invasive procedures are typically explored. Devices such as neurostimulators may be implanted or decompression surgeries of the nerves affected may be used.
At Keystone Chiropractic, we focus on NeuroStructural Correction of the spine. By correcting the abnormality, we allow the nerves to function like a highway absent of any traffic. Thus, the person who had to worry about drinking a glass of wine no longer has an issue.
If you suffer from migraines, feel free to contact us to see if our unique focus on Neuro-Strucutral Correction could be the right approach for you.