Migraines are extremely debilitating and can leave you out of commission for days or even a week at a time. However, for some four million people, migraines occur for more than 15 days during a month’s time. These are called chronic migraines and must make them feel as if there is no relief in sight. Yet, positive results have been seen in caring for migraines naturally. We will discuss what this is later on in this article, but first, let’s learn some more about chronic migraines and migraines in general.
Chronic migraine sufferers have all the symptoms of normal migraines compounded with additional problems. Migraines are known for:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe throbbing or pounding head pain
- Usually pain on one side of the head (not always)
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, and certain odors
- Visual disturbances
In addition to the above, chronic migraine sufferers have:
- Sleep problems
- Anxiety disorders
Other conditions often coexisting with chronic migraines are:
- Bipolar disorder
Around 88% of those who have chronic migraines have one other condition that exists with it. And, 20% are disabled with a very diminished life quality.
Why Migraines Happen
The exact cause of migraines remains a mystery among those in the medical community. Many theories abound but have not been totally agreed upon. What is recognized is that migraines often occur due to reduced blood flow to the brain and irritation of the nerves located in the head and neck.
One thing recognized that brings about migraines is medication overuse. It is easy to see how this can happen. If you are using over-the-counter or prescription medication to care for headaches more than 2 or 3 days a week, you may be at risk for creating rebound headaches or medication overuse headaches. These headaches are often worse than migraines and result in more headaches needing to be cared for. As one takes medication for these, more headaches ensue, creating a vicious cycle. The only real way to stop this is to stop taking any medication to care for migraines. While this can be very hard, it is the best thing to break the repeated cycle. It is vital to do this under a doctor’s care, however.
Certain triggers are known to bring about migraines. Being aware of what these are can help you to avoid them and possibly have fewer migraine attacks. Triggers may include:
- Food additives: Aspartame, MSG, and other artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers are problems for some.
- Hunger: Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar – a reason migraines occur.
- Dehydration: If you are not drinking enough water, migraines may ensue.
- Caffeine: Too much or too little caffeine can be to blame here; be alert to over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine.
- Physical activity: Intense exercise can worsen migraines, causing many to give up their favorite sport.
- Changes in the weather: When the temperature changes from hot to cold, more migraines are experienced. Thunderstorms and, oddly enough, lightning, have also been seen to cause migraines.
- Odd or strong odors: Perfume, cigarette smoke, smells from food – these can trigger attacks or make migraines worse once they have begun.
- Bright, flashing lights: This may include being exposed to sunlight, and one study revealed it can happen when the person drank wine the previous night. It is possible that bright light is actually a secondary trigger if the patient is already dehydrated, sleep deprived, or having low blood sugar. Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and avoiding very sunny places may help.
- Hormones: Research shows that women are three times more likely to have migraines than males. Half of female migraine patients report having a migraine during menstruation. Oral contraceptives can also be to blame. In some patients, pregnancy offers relief while others get worse headaches.
- Loud noises
- Certain medications: As mentioned previously, medication overuse can lead to more headaches.
- Food: As many as 60% of people report food being a trigger for their migraines. Such things as:
- Aged cheeses
- Processed meat such as salami, pepperoni, bacon, sausage
- Salty foods
Migraines can make you feel bad while they are happening, but afterward, they can be just as rough. Side effects can last for up to 24 hours. Fatigue, moodiness, irritability, or even a surge of energy can all be present. Many people need to sleep after an attack. Those with chronic migraines find that as soon as they recover from one headache, another one is just around the corner. Is there anything that can be done?
Natural Chronic Migraine Relief
Upper cervical chiropractors have had much success in caring for chronic migraine patients, as well as those with other headache types. We focus on making sure the bones of the upper cervical spine are in alignment. Migraines have been linked to these types of misalignments, especially when they occur in the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae. A problem in this area of the neck can impact blood flow from getting to and leaving the brain in the proper amount. Also, nerves can become irritated. Communication is often disrupted as well. This leads to many other health problems besides migraines, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, Meniere’s disease, and vertigo, to mention just a few.
We use a method that does not require us to crack or pop the spine like traditional chiropractic does. Rather, it is a gentle technique based on scientific measurements and precise adjustments to just the area that needs help. Adjustments are only given when needed. This has proven to be very helpful to migraine patients. Some see their headaches improve or go away entirely in only one or two adjustments!