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Migraine Treatment

girl with a headache

Migraine Treatment – Effective Relief

A migraine is a primary headache disorder that is recurrent in nature and involves pain of moderate to a severe intensity which can last for 4 to 72 hours.

Migraines are usually characterized as being unilateral (one-sided) with a pulsating quality and may be associated with nausea or vomiting. Migraines can occur with auras, which are focal neurological symptoms that usually precede or accompany headaches.

Typically the aura develops over 5 to 20 minutes and lasts for less than an hour. Auras are associated with visual disturbances such as visualizing flashes, wavy lines or dots, and can also be accompanied by vomiting, sweating, impaired concentration, and sensory hypersensitivity (to light and/or sound).

Precipitating factors associated with migraines include fasting, stress, altered sleep-wake cycle, odors, smoking, alcohol, caffeine withdrawal and change in weather.

Other triggers include foods containing tyramine such as cheddar cheese and wine; chocolate; bananas; nuts;  aspartame;  sodium nitrate which is contained in hot dogs and lunch meats; and nitrites, such as, red wine.

Several successful interventions in providing migraine relief include massage therapy, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and exercise.  There is a moderate level of evidence which supports weekly massage in reducing episodic migraine frequency and for improving symptoms potentially linked to headache pain.

Areas of focus should include trigger points of the back, shoulder, neck, and head. A moderate level of research also exists in recommending spinal manipulation for patients with episodic or chronic migraines with or without aura.

Furthermore, lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, getting adequate sleep, engaging in regular physical activity and adopting healthier nutritional habits also assisted in reducing migraine frequency.

Migraines originate deep within the brain, in the cerebrum, and send electrical impulses to other regions of the brain. These excited brain cells trigger the trigeminal nerve to release chemicals that cause blood vessel dilation and inflammation of surrounding tissue on the surface of the brain.

Pain signals are sent from the swollen blood vessels to the brainstem where pain information is processed.

Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraines by providing pain relief by stimulating the nerves located in muscles and other tissues which leads to a release of neuropeptides that changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

In addition, acupuncture assists in reducing inflammation by promoting the release of vascular immunomodulatory factors and modulates extracranial and intracranial blood flow.

Migraines can be disabling and limit your performance and quality of life.

Consult a health care professional if you would like to know more information about self-management techniques and manual therapy interventions.

Written B: Dr. Gianna Soncina, DC

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