I am very grateful to have never had a migraine headache, but they are one of the most common chronic health problems in the world today. The World Health Organization now estimates that over 10% of the population suffers from migraine headaches, accounting for roughly 40 million people. Despite its prevalence, migraines are still one of the most poorly understood health problems out there.
Some typical symptoms of migraine headaches include a throbbing/searing pain, "auras" prior to onset, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, sweating, and sensitivity to light, sound or smells. The first time someone experiences one they are many times frightened because the neurological symptoms can mimic those of a stroke due to the visual disturbances and arm/leg tingling that often occurs.
What are the causes?
This is where things become a little murky. There are many opinions on this matter, and they may very well all have some merit. For years it was thought that prior to a migraine there was a severe constriction of blood flow which led to the headache. Today we know the opposite is true, where blood flow actually INCREASES by nearly 300% during these attacks. However, once the migraine attack occurs, blood flow seems to return to normal. Many believe one of the primary causes is compression of your brain stem from a severe spinal misalignment in the upper portion of your neck. This is a very common cause of many patients I see in the office on a regular basis. There are also various other stress "triggers" that can ultimately cause enough stress in your body to allow the attack to occur. This includes but are not limited to certain food or food additives, dehydration, hormonal problems, sleep issues, bright light, and many more.
What Can Be Done?
Drugs can be a common approach to managing migraines, but as you know they do nothing towards eliminating the cause of them. One of the most important things you can do to get to the cause of the problem is to remove as much nervous system stress off your brain stem as possible. This is done by maintaining proper spinal alignment of the 1st and 2nd bone in your neck. Spinal misalignments are known as subluxations and cause pressure or irritation on spinal nerves, which can many times result in a migraine headache. Once the subluxation is corrected via chiropractic adjustments, the occurrences of migraines are greatly reduced and in many instances, stopped.
Remember, you still have to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of chiropractic care. It is vitally important that you reduce the "triggers" to the smallest entity possible in your life. Eat a healthy diet with minimal or no processed foods, perform an adequate amount of exercise, get proper rest, reduce external stress, and in general maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will go a long way to providing you significant relief, and maybe even eliminate them from your life...