There are all kinds of headaches, but the Migraine Headache really stands out. Most headaches can cause minor discomfort and fade away fairly quickly. On the other hand, the Migraine Headache is another beast entirely:
When your pain is disabling and tending to last for hours or days; it’s likely to be a migraine.
If you get migraines like this, read on – I’m your Summerlin Chiropractor here to help you mitigate your migraines naturally.
First we are are going to cover the fundamentals of migraines, and then we are going to cover the natural approaches to getting migraine relief.
Foreshadowing the Migraine: The Prodrome
Sometimes occurring up to 48 hours before the start of the migraine, the Prodrome is your early indicator that you have a Migraine Headache on the way.
Tuning into and being aware of your prodrome is critical to deciphering what is triggering your migraines. With that in mind, here is a list of common migraine prodrome symptoms:
- Food cravings
- Frequent yawning
- Excessive thirst
- Mood changes such as feeling depressed, irritable, restless, anxious, or euphoric
- Strong or frequent urge to urinate
- Neck Stiffness or Pain
The Migraine Aura
Usually starting before the migraine headache, about 25-35% of people with migraines get an Aura.
Auras are sensory disturbances. Most migraine auras are visual, but patients with migraine also report changes to their sense of smell, hearing, and touch. Speech and movement may also be affected.
Common aura symptoms:
- Changes to sight, such as seeing bright lines, shapes, waves, objects, or flashes; partial loss of sight or blind spots, or blurry vision
- Hearing loss or ringing of the ears
- Being hypersensitive to touch, sounds, or smells
- Hearing sounds that are not there (auditory hallucinations)
- Smelling odors that are not there (olfactory hallucinations)
- Feelings of burning, pain, tingling, or numbness, often in the face, hands, or feet
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Loss of feeling, or inability to move a part of the body such as the tongue
Attack of the Migraine
If you have ever had a bad Migraine Headache, you understand why they are called “Attacks,” migraines will usually present with intense and severe many times one sided, but can involve the entire head. People rate it an 8-10 on a scale of 1-10!
- A throbbing or pulsating sensation, usually one-sided
- Extreme sensitivity to and/or inability to tolerate light or sound.
- Nausea and vomiting may accompany migraines
The Occult Migraine – Migraine Without the Headache!
The Occult or Hidden Migraine occurs when you have Aura symptoms without the headache. This often manifests as numbness, tingling, and/or pain in the face, neck, or arms, but can have a myriad of presentations.
My son once got an occult migraine that lead to intense tingling pain shooting down both arms, but with zero head pain. It was so intense he went to the ER. Investigation revealed that he had eaten four large Pomegranates the night before.
When the Migraine Headache ends – the Migraine Postdrome
After the pain has at last subsided, the migraine sufferer might not yet be out of the woods. During this period, it is common to experience exhaustion. You may feel weak, moody, confused and dizzy for up to 24 hours with a lingering sensitivity to light and sound. Others, on the other hand, may enjoy an unaccustomed sense of elation. The phenomena is known is called the Migraine Postdrome aka Migraine Hangover.
While the tendency to suffer from migraines may be neurological in origin, the actual triggers can vary.
Common triggers include:
- Processed foods like cured meats
- Foods that are marinated, pickled, or fermented
- Aged foods like wine, cheeses, vinegar
- Fruit or fruit acids
- Nuts and seeds
- Food additives, particularly Aspartame, Sulfites, and Monosodium Glutamate.
- Spices, particular gut irritants like Paprika, Garlic, Pepper, really anything “Picante”
- Alcoholic drinks, especially high congener alcohols like wine, whiskey; basically anything aged in a barrel
- Foods high in Oxalic or Salicylic Acid, like Spinach, Kale, or Rhubarb
- Bright lights
- Strong odors
- Missed meals
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Not getting enough sleep
- Stress of all kinds
What Causes Migraine Headaches in the First Place?
No one knows for sure, but in the last 21 years of helping practice members mitigate their migraines naturally, I am convinced that the Subluxation in the neck, creating spinal cord/brain/meningeal tension is least part of the underlying cause for most migraine sufferers is having a chronically subluxated neck.
This sets up a either a global or local “Fight or Flight” state in the autonomic nervous system that changes blood flow and capillary dilation – thus setting up an excessive blood flow response to a trigger. This is why an effective course of low-force chiropractic care, like NUCCA, QSM3, and Network Spinal Analysis can be very helpful to change the underlying susceptibility to triggers.
Also, having a generalized level of inflammation, specifically inflammation in the circulatory system, can lead to an inflamed Blood Brain Barrier, which leads to increased permeability of the Blood Brain Barrier. This increased permeability allows things like Albumin to get into the Cerebral Spinal Fluid, causing things like swelling and inflammation of the brain and the meninges.
A migraine sufferer may have chronically elevated levels of generalized inflammation, which then over time increases it’s effect on the Blood Brain Barrier, then the brain and it’s supporting fluid and structures. Then, when the brain and it’s sheathing are swollen and inflamed, then you eat the wrong thing, (maybe some hot wings), and that takes the inflammation and swelling (that is already present), over the edge into a migraine.
Treating Migraine Headaches
The widespread prevalence of migraine has led to the development of various treatments and medications. While some are designed to stop the progression of a migraine in its tracks, others take a preventative approach.
As a low-force Chiropractor here in Summerlin, I cannot offer advice on pharmaceuticals, but I can tell you that my patients find them useful, especially when they are able to take a medication when the onset of an aura – they tell me they can get an 80-90% reduction in migraine intensity if they catch it in time.
Here in our practice in Summerlin, I like take a natural approach to mitigating migraine headaches:
Usually we start with a consultation where we get your history of migraines, then if appropriate, then the next step is a spinal/neurological exam, with an emphasis on looking for subluxations. If I can palpate subluxations that may be causing your migraines, then I will typically order some X-Rays of the affected area to investigate further. I typically need overnight to analyze your X-Rays and develop a treatment plan for you.
As we work together to remove your subluxations, we will also work to help you identity any food triggers and reduce systemic inflammation overall. I will give you some fresh ways to monitor your inflammation so that you can really tune into the subtle prodrome reactions you may have to triggers BEFORE they escalate into a migraine.
If you live in the Las Vegas area, and you would like a consultation, call 702-566-4673 and tell them you need to see Dr. Hans for a free consultation.