Around 37 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. A migraine is a type of headache which typically causes intense throbbing pain on one side of the head and sensitivity to light and sound. Many people also suffer from nausea when they have a migraine headache. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with daily activities.
What Causes Migraines?
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes migraines, but a few connections have been made such as:
Family History: There could be a heredity factor for migraines, meaning they may run in families. The American Migraine Foundation reports that if one of your parents has migraines, there is a 50% chance that you will, too. If both parents have migraines, your chances jump up to 75%.
Serotonin Levels: Serotonin plays many roles in the body, and it can have an effect on the blood vessels. When serotonin levels fall, the blood vessels dilate (swell). This swelling can cause pain and other problems.
Hormonal Imbalances: Women are more likely to have chronic migraines. This is likely linked to hormones. Hormones fluctuate each month around the time of a menstrual period. They can also fluctuate if a woman is pregnant or going through menopause.
Environmental Factors: There are environmental factors that can trigger migraines, such as changes in weather or air pressure, bright light, strong odors, and eye strain as a result of prolonged use of the computer or television.
Poor Posture – What many don’t realize is that spending hours looking at a computer screen and having a poor posture can cause the neck muscles in the spine to become tight, resulting in headaches.
Spine and Neck Strain or Injury – Inflammation of the spine or neck joints and corresponding nerves can cause headaches. The Dura mater or outer layer that covers the skull has a network of nerves that can become inflamed when there is inflammation in the spine or neck.
Poor Diet – Diets high in sugar and saturated fats can cause inflammation which can in turn trigger headaches. Food sensitivities or allergies may also trigger inflammation. If you suspect this may be causing your migraines, consider keeping a daily nutritional journal in order to track any connections between certain foods or beverages and the onset of migraines.
Stress – Stress causes the muscles of the neck and back to tighten. In addition to migraines, stress causes muscle aches, joint aches, and more.
Common Migraine Headache Treatments
Most migraine treatments prescribed by doctors are aimed at stopping symptoms and preventing future attacks. These medications fall into two categories:
- Pain-relieving medications – Also known as an acute or abortive treatment, these types of drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms.
- Preventive medications – These types of drugs are taken regularly, often daily, to reduce the severity and/or frequency of migraines.
While these medications can be helpful in relieving or preventing symptoms, they come with unpleasant – if not harmful – side effects and are not long-term solutions. For example, anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen can cause a condition known as a “rebound migraine”. Also known as “medication-overuse migraines”, rebound migraines are caused by the frequent or excessive use of pain-relieving and/or anti-migraine drugs to treat headache attacks.
Botox – This is an injection that paralyzes muscles that support the head and neck and is used in an attempt to relieve tension in these areas.
As an alternative to drugs, chiropractic care is a safe and viable option to consider. Not only is chiropractic a proven, drug-free treatment for migraines, it often helps uncover other conditions that may be contributing to your condition.
How Chiropractic Treats Migraines
Because neck and back pain can be triggers for migraine headaches, chiropractic treatment is gaining popularity in the medical community. According to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants who received chiropractic treatment for migraines reduced the number of migraines they had by more than half!
When treating our patients for migraines, we do a thorough health history as well as lifestyle analysis in order to get to the root of the problem and its solution, instead of just covering up symptoms or trying to prevent them. Here are the ways chiropractic care can help provide relief:
Neck and spinal adjustments – A chiropractic adjustment of the spine and neck reduces tension, restores mobility, helps improve the functioning of the central nervous system, and improves the body’s ability to heal itself.
Stretches and Exercises – We teach patients therapeutic exercises that can help relax the shoulder, neck, and spine muscles which in turn improves circulation and reduces nerve irritation.
Ergonomic Guidance – We teach the importance of good posture, both sitting and standing.
Lifestyle advice– We offer lifestyle and nutritional counseling to improve diet, reduce stress, and maintain balance in the body.
If you haven’t tried chiropractic care for your migraine headaches, let us help. Our gentle chiropractic care and holistic approach will not only provide lasting relief while decreasing the need for medication, it will help improve the overall quality of your life.