Living With Migraine
If you’ve never experienced a migraine, you may think it’s just a headache and wonder what the big deal is. If you have, you understand that a migraine is not just a headache, it’s a neurological disease with a complex set of debilitating symptoms that vary from one person to another.
Many migraine sufferers report specific triggers for their migraines. Some of the most common triggers for migraines include stress, fatigue, hunger, and hormones. Some sufferers report dietary triggers, as well as certain smells and air pollution. Among those who are able to identify triggers, avoiding those triggers can help to reduce frequency of migraines, though they may still have migraines without having been exposed to a trigger.
Migraines progress through four phases, though not all sufferers experience all four phases.
The prodromal phase affects about 60% of sufferers and occurs up to two days before the migraine. During this phase, the sufferer may display mood changes or experience stiff muscles, digestive issues, food cravings, especially sweets, and sensitivity to odors and sound.
The aura phase affects up to 30% of migraine sufferers and is usually short-lived, typically less than an hour. Auras are sensory disturbances that signal the migraine is imminent. The most common auras are visual and may include tunnel vision, colored patterns at the edges of the visual field, blurriness, blind spots, or flashing lights. Other auras may consist of ringing in the ears, phantom smells or tastes, or tingling and numbness in the extremities. Some sufferers may experience sensorimotor issues, though these are less common.
As the aura fades, the pain sets in and lasts anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days. Pain is most frequently limited to one side of the head, though about 40% of sufferers experience pain on both sides. The pain is typically aggravated by light, sound, or movement. There are individuals who experience migraines without the headache, but this is uncommon.
The postdrome can be described as a ‘migraine hangover’. The sufferer may continue to experience some pain, cognitive impairment, fatigue, weakness, and mood changes for the next few days.
Migraines affect approximately 18% of women and 6% of men and is, according to the World Health Organization, among the top 20 causes of disability, with 90% of sufferers unable to function normally during an attack.
The exact cause of migraines is not yet known, though many sufferers are able to identify and avoid their particular triggers. In the past, migraines were believed to be vascular or neurovascular in nature. The current theory is focused on a combination of vascular structures, the trigeminal nerve, the meninges (outer membrane surrounding the brain), the scalp, and the base of the skull.
There are medications that can be taken as a preventive measure to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, as well as medications that can be taken when a migraine begins. While these medications can improve the lives of some sufferers, they can have unwanted side effects and are not a good solution for all migraine sufferers. Over time, they can become less effective, requiring higher or more frequent doses to provide relief. Chiropractic care can offer longer lasting relief, without the side effects or long term toxicity of medication.
Though the exact root cause of migraines is not known for certain, the gentle manipulation of chiropractic care has been proven in several studies to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
If you have been plagued by migraines and want to find out how you can finally get relief, call Chatfield Chiropractic now on (03) 9303 9952 Roxburgh Park or (03) 9746 3977 Sunbury to arrange an appointment to find out how we can help.