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.
If you’ve had pain in your head that feels disabling and lasts for hours or days, you know what one of those beasts feels like.
If you get Migraines, read on. I’m your Summerlin Chiropractor here to help you naturally mitigate the acute pain that results from them.
First, I’ll cover the fundamentals of migraines. Then I’ll cover the various natural approaches to getting relief from them.
Foreshadowing the Migraine: The Prodrome
Sometimes occurring up to 48 hours before the start of a migraine, the Prodrome is an early indicator that you have a Migraine Headache on the way.
Recognizing your Prodrome is critical to deciphering what is triggering them. For instance, 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 actually occurs, about 25-35% of people who get them feel an Aura, which is a sensory disturbance.
Most migraine auras are visual. However, patients who suffer from migraines also report changes to their sense of smell, hearing, and touch. Speech and movement may also be affected.
Common aura symptoms:
- Distinct changes to sight, such as seeing bright lines, shapes, waves, objects, or flashes
- Partial loss of sight, 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 commonly in the face, hands, or feet
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Loss of feeling, or the inability to move a part of the body such as the tongue
Attack of the Migraine
If you’ve ever had a Migraine Headache, you understand why they are called “Attacks”. In fact, on a pain scale of 1-10, victims often rate them as an 8-10.
Common symptoms of migraines include:
- A throbbing or pulsating sensation, usually one-sided
- Extreme sensitivity to and/or inability to tolerate light or sound.
- Nausea and vomiting
The Occult Migraine – An Attack Without the Headache!
The Occult or Hidden Migraine occurs when someone has Aura symptoms without the headache. This often manifests as numbness, tingling, and/or pain in the face, neck, or arms, but can present itself in a myriad of ways.
My son once got an occult migraine. With it, he felt intense tingling pain shooting down both arms, but zero pain in his head. It was so intense that he had to go to the ER for help. Interestingly, an investigation revealed that he had eaten four large Pomegranates the night before, which caused it.
When the Migraine Headache Ends – the Migraine Postdrome
After the pain has finally subsided, the migraine sufferer might not yet be out of the woods. During this period, it is common for them to experience exhaustion. As a result, they may feel weak, moody, confused and dizzy for up to 24 hours with a lingering sensitivity to light and sound. Others, however, may enjoy an unaccustomed sense of elation. The phenomena is known as the Migraine Postdrome, also known as a 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, cheese and vinegar
- Fruit or fruit acids
- Nuts and seeds
- Food additives, particularly Aspartame, Sulfites, and Monosodium Glutamate
- Spices, particularly gut irritants like Paprika, Garlic, Pepper, and really anything classified as “Picante”
- Alcoholic drinks, especially high congener alcohols like wine and 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 over the last 21 years of helping patients mitigate their migraines naturally, I am convinced that the Subluxation in the neck is least part of the underlying cause. Why? Because the tension between the spinal cord, brain and meningeal manifests itself that way. At least that’s what I believe.
What happens due to a Subluxation in the neck is either a global or local “Fight or Flight” state in the autonomic nervous system. Because it changes blood flow and capillary dilation, it sets up an excessive blood flow response causing the trigger. This is why an effective course of low-force chiropractic care can be very helpful to change the underlying susceptibility to triggers. Options for this kind of treatment include: NUCCA, QSM3, and Network Spinal Analysis.
Also, having a generalized level of inflammation, specifically inflammation in the circulatory system, can lead to an inflamed Blood Brain Barrier. As a result, the Blood Brain Barrier gets increasingly permeable, which is defined as allowing gases or liquids to pass through it. Then, proteins like Albumin can get into the Cerebral Spinal Fluid, which cause swelling and inflammation of the brain and the meninges.
A migraine sufferer may also have chronically elevated levels of generalized inflammation. If this is the case, the effect on the Blood Brain Barrier increases over time. As it worsens, the brain and it’s supporting fluid and structures can be negatively impacted as well. With that said, when the brain and it’s sheathing are already inflamed and then someone eats the wrong thing (like hot wings), that pushes the inflammation over the edge, and then a migraine is what often results.
Treating Migraine Headaches
The widespread prevalence of migraine headaches has led to the development of various treatments and medications. While some are designed to stop the progression of them in their tracks, others take a preventative approach.
As a low-force Chiropractor in Summerlin, I cannot offer advice on pharmaceuticals. However, I can tell you that my patients find them useful, especially if they take a medication at the onset of an aura. When that happens, they tell me they can get up to an 80-90% reduction in migraine intensity simply by catching it in time.
In my practice, I like to take a natural approach to mitigating migraine headaches. To be more specific:
First, we usually start with a consultation to get our patient’s history of migraines. Then, if appropriate, the next step is a spinal/neurological exam with an emphasis on looking for subluxations. If there are subluxations, it’s very likely they’re what is causing the migraines. And, if I can feel and/or examine them by touch, then I will typically order X-Rays so I can investigate further. Typically, I need one night to analyze X-Rays and then develop a treatment plan for a patient in my care.
As we work together with our patients to remove their subluxations, we also work to help them identity any food triggers and reduce systemic inflammation overall. I will give them some new ways to monitor their inflammation so that you can really tune into the subtle Prodrome reactions they may have to triggers BEFORE they escalate into a migraine.
If you live in the Las Vegas area and would like a consultation, call 702-566-4673 and tell them you need to see Dr. Hans for a free consultation.