Migraines are extremely painful, recurring headaches that are sometimes accompanied by other symptoms. These can include visual disturbances, an aura or nausea. There are 2 types of migraines. 1. Migraine with aura, (common migraines) and 2. Migraine without aura (classic migraines.) If you have a migraine with aura, you may see things, such as stars, or zigzag lines, or have a temporary blind spot about 30 minutes before the headache starts. Some people do not experience an aura, but have other warning signs in the period before the headaches starts, such as a craving for sweets, thirst, sleepiness, or depression. Although there is no cure for migraines, you can manage the condition by reducing the frequency of attacks and utilizing chiropractic manipulation to reduce pain once an attack has begun.
The headache from a migraine, with or without an aura, usually has the following characteristics: throbbing, pounding, or pulsating pain that often begins on one side of your head and may spread to the other. Intense pain is often concentrated around the sides of the forehead and can last from 4 to 72 hours. Some symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances (such as flashing lights or zigzag lines, temporary blind spots, or blurred vision), lightheadedness, or vertigo can occur during, or before the headache.
Researchers are not sure what causes a migraine, although they know it involves changes in the blood flow to the brain. Migraines begin with blood vessels that narrow or constrict, reducing blood flow to the brain. This may lead to visual disturbances, weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation in one area of the body. Later, the blood vessels dilate or enlarge, leading to increased blood flow and a severe headache. Research indicates that there is a genetic link to migraine headaches. More than 50% of migraine patients have an affected family member. Migraines are triggered by many different things. An effective way to manage your pain is to keep a migraine diary; particularly when you first begin to experience migraines. This helps to identify the triggers for your headaches so you can avoid them. 1. When a migraine happens, write down the date and time it started. 2. Keep track of what have eaten for the preceding 24 hours and how long you slept the night before. 3. What you were doing just before the headache, how long the headache lasted, any unusual stress in your life, and what you did to make it stop. Some triggers include; Alcohol (especially beer and red wine) aged cheeses, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), onions, dairy products, meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats), skipping meals, fluctuations in hormones, certain odors, bright lights, loud noises, stress and headache medications. It is important to note that using headache medications, excessively, can lead to more frequent and more severe headaches. These headaches called medication overuse headache, may complicate every type of headache, including migraine.
Your doctor will take a detailed medical history so he or she can determine whether you are experiencing a migraine or another type of headache; such as a tension or sinus headache. Your doctor should ask questions about when your headaches occur, how long they last, how often they come on, the location of the pain, and any symptoms that accompany or precede the headaches. Your doctor may suggest imaging in order to rule out other conditions.
Several clinical trials concluded that spinal manipulation therapy may help treat migraine headaches. In a recent study of people with migraines, 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported a 90% reduction in attacks. Nearly half reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine. In a similar study, people with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects. Researchers reviewed data from nine additional studies which recorded the effects of chiropractic treatment to reduce tension and pain from migraine headaches. The data indicates that the chiropractic treatment was just as effective as medications in preventing these headaches. Herbs and homeopathy are other treatment options that have shown benefit and may work for some people. Medications may be prescribed if you have 2 or more migraines per month, use pain relievers more than twice a week, or if your symptoms are especially debilitating.