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Migraines

Nearly everyone gets headaches.  But while some are tension headaches or headaches caused by sinus problems or even dehydration, migraine headaches tend to be much more severe than the average headache.  Migraine headaches tend to be severe and recurrent and are often accompanied by nausea.  What begins as a pain on one side of the head may spread to both sides and can be a severe impediment in your daily routine.

migraine If you've ever had a migraine, you know the difference between a regular headache and a 'sick headache'.  Migraine headaches commonly last for several days (much longer than a regular headache) and many sufferers become sick to their stomach and may vomit.  After thier onset, many migraine victims report their headache much worse with lights, loud noises or movement.  Often, migraine patients report they are so sick they can only lie in a dark, quiet room for several days at a time. 

They describe the severity of their headaches as 'whole body headaches' and once the headache has started, there is very little that will stop it.  In many cases, after the migraine has taken hold of it's victim, they have to 'ride it out' until its over, regardless of treatment.  It is also common for certain foods, smells or stress to trigger a migraine, however many patients are unaware of any initiating factors.

Some persons get warning signs before a migraine attack. These are called 'aura' - throbbing pulsating pain or flashes of bright lights or blind spots. It is thought that migraine headaches are caused by a change in the blood flow pattern to the brain. Trigerred by stress or other factors, arteries supplying blood to the brain may constrict. Serotonin, a chemical may also have a role to play since it is released from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels. To tackle this, certain arteries within the brain may dilate to accomodate better oxygen supply. This dilation may result in migraine headaches. While anyone can get migraine headaches, they are more common in women .  

It is estimated that nearly 11 out of 100 people suffer from migraine headaches. In fact, Nearly 3 out of 4 people who have migraines are women. Typically women in the age group of 35 - 45 complain of migraine headache - attributing it to factors such as hormonal changes, family and social commitments and stress.  An episode of migraine can last from 3 - 72 hours.  Recurrent migraine headaches can be tiresome and severely restrict a patient's activities.  There is loss of productivity and considerable discomfort from the symptoms of migraine headaches. Severe migraines can completely debilitate a person; some patients have migraines so bad they are completely disabled and cannot work.

Migraine Headache Symptoms
Migraine headache symptoms may vary in type and intensity from person to person. Migraines can be inherited and thus run in families. Some typical symptoms noticed in most migraine headache sufferers are:

  • Throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Visual hallucinations such as zigzag lines and flashing lights
  • Tiredness, irritability and confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Diarrhea and increased urination

    Causes of Migraine Headache
    In our experience, we have found several causes of migraine headaches that respond well to natural treatment.  In some cases, we've found the cause of a patient's migraine headaches to be pinched nerves in the spine from herniated discs.  Most of the time, the pinched nerves/disc problems are found in the patient's neck, however even the low back and pelvis need to be checked as rarely problems here can contribute to migraines as well. 

    Often changes in weather or altitude can trigger migraine headaches. If you have irregular sleeping patterns (too much or too little), it may be the cause for migraine headaches.  An interruption of your regular sleep pattern may bring on a headache.  Strong odors, bright lights and loud noises are known to be triggers for a migraine attack.  Fasting is yet another triggering factor for migraine headache.  Women may experience migraine headaches on account of their menstrual cycle, birth control pills or hormones.  Women who are on oral contraceptive pills are more likely to develop migraine headaches as a side effect.

    These triggers suggest hypersensitivities to things in a person's environment, food or chemicals in their own body. Another word for 'hypersensitivities' is allergies.  When asked about whether or not they have allergies, many migraine sufferers say 'no'.  However further investigation into their symptoms suggest otherwise.  If hormones, certain foods or strong odors trigger a migraine, the cause of your problem is most likely allergic.

    Migraine Headache Relief
    Relief from migraines can be a multi-pronged approach.  In many cases, migraine sufferers will agree that once the headache has taken hold, it seems there is very little that will stop it and they will have to let it take it's course.  Sometimes however, if the patient can take certain steps when they first feel the migraine coming on, they can stop it.  These remedies don't work for everyone, but they may be worth a try....


    coffeeWhen they first start feeling the migraine or in the stages of 'prodromal effects' (pre-migraine symptoms like vision blurring, 'auras', dizziness, numbness, etc.), sometimes patients can stop a migraine from drinking a small amount of very strong caffeine.  Caffeine is a vaso-constrictor and if caught in time (before the migraine totally takes hold), may counteract the vaso-dilation of blood vessels (common to migraines) and this may stop the cycle.

    Another effective remedy for migraines is the use of oxygen.  If the patient can breathe in pure oxygen (from an oxygen tank) within the first few minutes they feel a migraine coming on, it has been reported the migraine will immediately go away.  Unfortunately, many patients do not have access to oxygen right when they're starting a migraine, so the use of this remedy is obviously quite limited.

    Remedies for migraines are important to managing this life-stealing problem, however they should only be used on an as-needed basis and not substituted for a correction.  Obviously, if you can get to the bottom of your problem and achieve a complete correction, then remedies are secondary and should only be used in emergency situations, but not solely relied upon.

    At Blue Ridge Family Chiropractic, our primary goal is to achieve as complete a correction as possible to your problems.  In many patients, we have found effective solutions for migraine headaches by either correcting pinched nerves in the spine or detection and correction of allergies or both.  After a consultation, a brief, painless exam tells us which type of problem (if not both) may require treatment.

    When pinched nerves are found, we use the Gonstead Method of spinal correction to gently re-align your spine and correct any herniated discs and pinched nerves.  As a Gonstead doctor, Dr. Levesque, DC always evaluates the patient's full spine in order to deliver the most complete correction possible.  In some cases, Gonstead Chiropractic correction of pinched nerves will completely correct migraine headaches, however most of the time, this treatment will provide only temporary relief. 

    We have found better treatment outcomes with N.A.E.T. allergy elimination treatments on migraine patients.  These patients may still have to undergo corrective spinal treatments (using Gonstead Chiropractic) initially, as the allergy elimination treatments seem to work better in patients whose spines are clear of pinched nerves.  We have found excellent results in the correction of migraine headaches with the use of N.A.E.T.; this would point to allergies as being a common cause of migraines.

    Migraine headaches are a severe problem and should be taken seriously, regardless of the frequency.  A sudden onset of migraines with regular frequency should always be investigated with a medical doctor or neurologist to rule out the possiblity of a brain tumor or any other life-threatening illnesses.  If life-threatening illness is ruled out, seek out natural treatment immediately. 

    If you have migraine headaches and would like a NO CHARGE consultation with Dr. Levesque, D.C. to determine if our treatments might help you, call us at 276-676-3111 to schedule an appointment.


Numbers and stats in the above article were taken from the following research papers:
"Practice parameter: Evidence-based guidelines for migraine headache (an evidence-based review) Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology", Silberstien, Stephen D., MD, FACP. Neurology. 55 (6): 754.
"Say Goodbye To Illness", 3rd Edition, Dr. Devi Nambudripad, M.D., D.C., L.Ac., PhD.  Please read the entire book.
"
Effects of NAET® as Relates to Most Common Allergy-related Subjective Pain syndrome in a chiropractic-Acupuncture-NAET office". Research study.
"The Journal of NAET® Energetics and Complementary Medicine".

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