Migraine headaches are among the most prevalent — and the least-understood — medical conditions in existence.
Approximately 13% of the world’s population suffer from migraines at some point in their lives. Because the symptoms vary so significantly from one patient to another, they can be challenging for mainstream medicine to diagnose and treat.
As most patients can attest, migraine headaches can be disruptive to everyday activities. From reduced productivity to missing work completely, strained relationships to broken commitments, those who suffer from migraines often feel the stress of disappointing people in their life because they’ve got another migraine.
Do you know who is more susceptible to migraines, men or women? And what are the common causes and best options for treatment? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!
It’s impossible to plan your life around debilitating pain that may strike at any time. Patients often describe their migraine headaches as a throbbing pain radiating from deep inside the head, often from just one side. Lasting from several hours to many days, migraines may also cause sensitivity to sound and light, or cause nausea and vomiting.
One in five people also report disturbances in their vision called “auras” just before the onset of a migraine. Common auras include blind spots, flashing lights or stars, or zigzag lines.
Who Gets Migraines
While anyone can get a migraine, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. Migraine headaches often run in families and are also associated with certain nervous system conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While there is no definitive, universally-accepted answer as to what causes migraines, several hypotheses have gained traction over the years, including:
- Overactive pain-signaling from the brain’s sensory neurons.
- A disordered nervous system, possibly in the brain stem.
- Low levels of the brain chemical serotonin.
- Emotional issues or disrupted energy in the body.
- Vitamin B or other mineral deficiency.
- Negative reactions to certain foods. Wheat/gluten, milk, sugar, yeast, corn, citrus fruits, eggs, aspartame, and MSG have all been linked to migraines to some degree.
- Reactions to some medications.
- Lack of sleep.
- Genetic susceptibility. Research has shown that 70-90% of migraine sufferers have family members who also experience them.
- Environmental triggers. Smells can sometimes set off a migraine.
Many patients instinctively reach for over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but these medications often don’t provide relief. Mainstream doctors tend to prescribe triptans or drugs that decrease inflammation and change the flow of blood within the brain. While these medications may cut down on the frequency of migraines or reduce the headache symptoms, they don’t address the root cause, and ultimately, the migraines return. Additionally, prescription drugs may cause brain fog, other unpleasant side effects or trigger “rebound headaches,” often as troublesome as the original migraine.
To effectively treat migraine headaches, you must address the underlying cause. Chiropractic treatment is focused on getting to the bottom of what’s producing your migraine headache. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; chiropractic care zeroes in on the unique characteristics of your migraines.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Chiropractic treatment includes gently moving, stretching, and placing subtle pressure on the spine to let your body heal itself naturally. You’ll likely experience instant pain relief at your chiropractic appointment, followed by reduced migraine frequency in the coming weeks and months. Your individual treatment plan will take your overall health into consideration and may include lifestyle adjustments such as drinking more water, getting more rest, taking a hot bath, or making sleep more of a priority in your life. Home exercises designed to reduce tension and discomfort in your neck and spine are often recommended in between office visits.