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MIGRAINES

 

A Migraine is a severe, painful headache that is often preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The excruciating pain that migraines bring can last for hours or even days.

Migraine headaches result from a combination of blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around these blood vessels. During the headache, an artery enlarges that is located on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple (temporal artery). This causes a release of chemicals that cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery.

A migraine headache causes the sympathetic nervous system to respond with feelings of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. This response also delays the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine (affecting food absorption), decreases blood circulation (leading to cold hands and feet), and increases sensitivity to light and sound.
  Women are much more likely to get them than males.  Children can also suffer from Migraines.  Children with migraines are much more inclined to suffer from behavioral issues, such as anxiety, depression, and social and attention issues than those who do not have headaches.

 

 

CAUSES

Some people who suffer from migraines can clearly identify triggers or factors that cause the headaches, but many cannot. Potential migraine triggers include: allergies, improper diet, smoking, excessive alcohol, loud noises, bright lights, physical stress, emotional stress, improper sleep patterns, hormone imbalance, menstruation, birth control medications, tension. Also, foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami).  Other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products, and fermented or pickled foods can also contribute to migraines. It is important to note here that triggers do not always cause migraines, and that avoiding these triggers does not guarantee the prevention of a migraine.  Avoiding these triggers decreases the chances of a migraine from starting.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of a migraine can occur at any time, before, during, even after a migraine.  These symptoms include: nausea, vomitting, irritability, unilateral head/neck pain, blurrines of vision, hearing difficulty, muscular spasm, pulsing/throbbing pain that increases, inability to perform normal daily functions, increased sensitivity to light and noise.  Many people experience migraines with auras just before or during the head pain, but most do not. Auras are perceptual disturbances such as confusing thoughts or experiences and the perception of strange lights, sparkling or flashing lights, lines in the visual field, blind spots, pins and needles in an arm or leg, or unpleasant smells. Migraine sufferers also may have premonitions called prodrome that can occur several hours or a day or so before the headache. These premonitions may consist of feelings of elation or intense energy, cravings for sweets, thirst, drowsiness, irritability, or depression.


DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of a migraine begins with a complete patient history including symptoms, frequency, duration, triggers, and family incidence.  Patients may require x-rays, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, to rule out other more serious causes of these headaches.  A diagnosis is made with a history of 5 or more of these headache attaks lasting for longer than 4 hours at a time, accompanied by the history of known migraine triggers.   These headaches are usually unilateral, pulsing, throbbing, extremely painful, and can be brough on by bright lights, or loud noises leading to nausea/vomitting.

TREATMENT

CHIROPRACTIC treatments begin with correcting the spinal mechanics of the head and neck.  Restoring normal movement of the spine relieves the pressure placed on nerve roots that supply the head and can contribute to the start of a migraine.  Treatment also focuses on the patients diet, sleep patterns, stressors, etc.  By adjusting the position of the Cervical vertebrae nerve and blood circulation to the head can be normalized.  Massage Therapy is also suggested to help decrease muscular hypertonicity around the affected area.  Patients generally notice improvement within the first 4-6 treatments.  The Chiropractor closely monitors changes in symptoms, and ranges of motion.  Modalities such as TENS, Ultrsound, Laser therapy are also used to improve nerve balance, and the muscular component of migraines.