Migraines are much more than just a bad headache. A migraine episode is a combination of neurological symptoms, with a terrible headache being one of the most recognizable and debilitating symptoms. An episode can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours and unfolds in stages:
- A prodrome stage is the first sign that an attack will arise. Prodrome symptoms can include changes in mood, food cravings, nausea, excessive thirst, and a stiff neck.
- Approximately 1 out of 4 migraine sufferers will experience an aura. Auras are a temporary neurologic disturbance that can impact a person’s balance, coordination, vision, speech, or sensation.
- The headache stage is the one that most people are familiar with. The head pain of a migraine can be an unbearable throbbing sensation that is made worse by movement, light, sound or smell. The headache can be accompanied by nausea or vomiting as well.
- Once the attack ends, there is a recovery stage. This stage is sometimes referred to as the “migraine hangover”. In many cases, the symptoms of the recovery stage are the opposite of the first stage, such as feeling very hungry when you initially lost your appetite.
What is Causing my Migraines?
The question of what causes migraines is one that plagues migraine sufferers, researchers, and healthcare providers alike. The truth is that the exact mechanism by which migraines occur is not fully understood. The prevailing thought used to be that the dilation and constriction of blood vessels was to blame, however, research is now revealing that migraines also involve nerve pathways and chemicals in the brain. This makes migraine one of the most prevalent neurological conditions worldwide, affecting over 1 billion people.
While the physiological causes of migraine are still being explored, migraine sufferers are usually able to identify one or more triggers that bring on or worsen an attack. Some of the most common things that trigger a migraine episode include:
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.
- Certain foods like processed meats, aged cheeses, red wine, or chocolate
- Caffeine, either too much or withdrawals
- Altered sleep schedules, like on weekends or vacation
- Hormonal changes in women, which can be related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
- Medication overuse
- Weather changes, such as lightning or changes in barometric pressure
- Genetics – a child who has one parent with migraines has a 50% chance of having them also. If both parents have migraines, the odds rise to 75%
If you deal with migraines, doing your best to figure out potential triggers might help you to avoid future attacks. Keeping a simple journal with your food and beverage intake, monthly menstrual cycle (for women), and even the weather can help you narrow down things to steer clear of (like certain foods) or things to do more of (like upping your water intake).
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Brings Needed Hope for Migraine Sufferers
Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the underlying cause of many cases of migraines. The result of this is a natural and effective approach to reducing the severity and frequency of migraines for many sufferers. The upper cervical spine is made up of the relationship between the skull and the upper two vertebrae of your spine – the atlas (C1) and axis (C2). Part of the reason there is a whole subspecialty within the chiropractic profession that focuses on this particular area of the neck is because it is designed completely different from the remainder of the spine. Whereas the rest of the spine is designed to be quite stable, the upper cervical spine is not – it is designed for mobility so we can move our heads freely. Because of this, it is particularly vulnerable to misaligning, especially when there is a history of head injury, neck injury or repetitive wear and tear.
When the upper cervical spine is not in normal alignment, several things can occur:
- Improper nerve signals traveling via the brainstem between the brain and body, hindering your body’s ability to optimally regulate itself.
- Restricted blood flow between the brain and neck via the vertebral arteries.
- Impeded flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is responsible for circulating nutrients as well as removing metabolic waste products from the central nervous system.
Your experience at an upper cervical chiropractic office will also differ from other chiropractic experiences you may have had in the past.
- A precise analysis and evaluation are made of each patient. This includes very specific diagnostic imaging as well as other criteria to determine the exact degree of YOUR misalignment.
- Upper cervical adjustments are gentle and do not require forceful twisting or popping of the neck. Once we understand how your atlas has misaligned, we are able to give gentle, precise corrections in order to restore normal head-neck alignment.
- Adjustments are designed to hold in place, allowing for the maximum amount of healing to take place. Our expectation is that over time, your upper cervical spine should stabilize, which allows for normal function to return.
If you or a loved one is suffering from migraines, particularly if you have ever had any kind of head or neck injury in the past, you may be the perfect candidate for upper cervical chiropractic care. Many of our patients have tried all the other options out there to find relief and are excited to see results from a gentle, natural method. To learn more about upper cervical care and to find out if we might be able to help, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Haan call 515-597-4600 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.