Although migraine attacks affect a significant number of people the triggering processes for the headaches aren’t fully understood.
It is interesting that chiropractic treatment has been shown to be effective for migraine sufferers and appears to affect the changes in the function of the blood or nervous systems in specific areas of the brain and changes in chemical balances within the body have been related to the cause of migraine attacks.
Migraines are usually divided into two types ‘common’ and ‘classic’ migraine.
The pain of the headache is normally one sided covering half of the forehead and around the eye however pain can also spread from the back of the head over to one eye or, occasionally, both.
This is the most common type and accounts for 80-85% of attacks. Research indicates that alterations in cerebral blood flow could be responsible for the symptoms of this headache
It usually starts in childhood, is most common in women and normally involves:
- a one-sided severe pulsing headache
- associated nausea and vomiting.
This type of migraine accounts for about 10-15% of attacks, has a typical throbbing unilateral headache but differs in that it often has an ‘aura’ or ‘prodrome’. This describes symptoms experienced before the throbbing headache like:
- flashing lights (scintillation)
- the presence of a blind spot (scotoma).
After half an hour or so there is a disabling headache that can last for a few hours to 3 days.
- Nausea and vomiting may occur.
- Photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights) is common and bright lights can aggravate the pain. So rest, darkness and quiet are often necessary.
Triggers vary but can include periods of stress, foods (commonly; chocolate, caffeine, nitrates, cheese, nuts, wine and many more), medications (including vasodilators), poor sleep or hormonal changes (e.g. menstrual cycle). Chiropractic can be especially helpful where the cause is tension in the neck (especially the upper part of the neck).
Identification of triggers is essential. Behavioural or lifestyle changes can play an important part in the treatment (e.g. avoidance of certain foods or maintenance of a regular sleep pattern).
Chiropractic has been shown to help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks in many cases, especially cases of common migraines, and we therefore recommend that you undergo a trial treatment.
Chiropractic treatment also deal with many contributory factors or after effects including relieve of restriction in movement of the neck, muscle tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders and helping correct any postural issues that may influence the occurrence of both migraine and tension headache
Nutritional and herbal support have indicated that the use of supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D among others useful in the treatment of migraine. However always consult your chiropractor or doctor before beginning any supplements.
Whilst there are a number of medications available that aim to control migraines, they are nearly all to reduce pain but do not address the cause of the migraines.
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