Hearing the word migraines is sometimes enough to cause one to tremble. If you have ever had this disabling condition, you are not alone. Migraines are the 3rd most prevalent illness worldwide, affecting as many as 1 billion people. Here in the United States, 39 men, women, and children suffer from migraines. Women are 3 times more likely than men to have migraines. So, what really is a migraine? Isn’t it just a really bad headache?
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Migraines are Neurological Conditions
Migraines are neurological in origin. They are, in fact, not headaches. This may come as a surprise to you, but a headache is simply the most acknowledged symptom of a migraine. It does not always have to be present for you to have a migraine. What symptoms are often seen with migraines? Here are the most common ones and the percent of migraine sufferers experience them:
- Throbbing or pounding head pain – 85%
- Sensitivity to light – 80%
- Sensitivity to sound – 76%
- Nausea – 73%
- Pain only on one side of the head – 59%
- Blurry vision or visual changes – 44%
- Aura – 36%
- Vomiting – 29%
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraine headaches, download our complimentary e-book NATURAL AND DRUG-FREE WAYS TO END YOUR MIGRAINES by clicking the image below.
In addition, you may also experience:
- Sensitivity to smell
- Numbness and tingling
- Puffy eyelid
- Neck pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Problems concentrating
- Extreme exhaustion
- Food cravings
What Causes Migraines?
The exact cause of this neurological disorder remains a mystery among the medical community. Research is constantly being done, but no exact reason has been agreed upon. A genetic link has been seen. However, why some people get migraines while others do not is still a question needing to be answered.
What is known is that many people have particular triggers that bring about migraine pain. These are different for everyone and some people have more than one trigger. Some of the most common triggers include:
- Not eating regularly, leading to low blood sugar levels
- Changes in your routine
- Being emotionally or physically stressed
- Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep
- Strong smells (perfume), loud noises, or flashing lights
- Certain food and drink:
- Red wine
- MSG – monosodium glutamate
- Aged cheeses
- Artificial sweeteners
- Citrus fruit
- Cured meats – bacon, ham, hot dogs
- Food dyes
- Caffeinated beverages
- Weather changes
- Cigarette smoke
- Hormonal changes in women
Who Is at a Higher Risk to Get Migraines?
- Those with a family history of migraines
- Migraines often first occur during adolescence and then tend to peak around age 30. As time passes, they may become less severe.
- Women are more likely to get migraines. However, young boys have them more than girls until the time of puberty.
- Migraines are often linked to hormonal changes in women. Some women find that they get a headache just before or shortly after the onset of menstruation. Some women find that their migraines decrease or increase during pregnancy as well. Migraines often improve after going through menopause.
Caring for Migraines
Because of their prevalence, migraines have become big business over the last few decades. Billions of dollars are spent annually on over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as trips to family physicians, specialists, and clinics. Even dentists, dermatologists, and holistic practitioners are being seen for help with migraines. People are so desperate for answers that they are willing to try almost anything.
One thing gaining popularity is Botox. This has indeed been helpful for some people. This involves 31 tiny injections that must be repeated every 12 weeks. Botox injections do come with some undesirable side effects that should be looked into before deciding to try it.
Some people find that putting ice on the back of the neck seems to ease the throbbing migraine pain for them, possibly due to the reduction in inflammation. The most popular drug that seems to be quite effective was developed in the 1990’s. These medications are called triptans and include Imitrex. Other options being tried are ear piercings, acupuncture, and herbal remedies. The truth of the matter is that migraines are very complex, and these options have a poor success rate. While many of these ideas provide some relief, they do not address the underlying cause of migraines. Therefore, the pain may go away on a temporary basis but is likely to return until the root cause is corrected.
Addressing the Underlying Cause of Migraines
A connection has repeatedly been seen between migraines and a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. The top bones of the neck, the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis), are responsible for protecting the delicate brainstem. They are also susceptible to misaligning due to their location, mobility, and shape. What causes them to misalign?
It only takes a misalignment of ¼ of a millimeter to wreak havoc on the entire body. This can easily be caused by a minor blow to the head, a trip and fall, a sporting accident, or a vehicle accident. When these bones misalign, instead of protecting the brainstem, they actually cause it to be under stress. The brainstem is the communication highway of the body. If it is stressed, it begins to send improper signals about the body to the brain. This can lead to migraines and other serious health-related problems.
Here at Sherwood Spinal Care, we use a method that is gentle and precise yet brings about positive results. A study observed 101 patients with differing types of headaches, including migraines. They were given an adjustment specifically tailored to their needs by an upper cervical chiropractor. All of them reported an improvement in their symptoms, and 85 of them saw their headaches go away completely. We have seen similar results in our practice in only one or two visits.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Sherwood, call 425-243-1607 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.