Migraines are a common neurological condition, and yet they are often misunderstood. To get a correct understanding of it, we are going to take a look at some common migraine myths and we will examine these in the light of a recent case study that reveals how one young woman took control of her chronic migraines.
Myth #1 – A Migraine Is Nothing but a Bad Headache
We’ve already stated that migraines are a neurological condition, which puts them in a completely different category from an ordinary headache. However, let’s consider some of the symptoms that show just how big of a difference there is.
- Headaches – Yes, this is the most common symptom, but it is neither the only symptoms nor is it required for every migraine. In fact, about 10% of migraines do not include a headache at all, clearly revealing the distinction. On the other hand, migraine headaches distinguish themselves by having two of the following four features: (1) one-sided pain, (2) moderate to severe pain, (3) pulsing or throbbing pain, or (4) pain that grows worse with exertion.
- Nausea and vomiting – Even the worst tension headaches rarely reach the point that they cause these symptoms, but nausea is one of the most common migraine symptoms, and about a third of migraineurs will reach the point of vomiting.
- Sensory symptoms – Sensitivity to lights, sounds, smells, or even touch are among the most common migraine systems. These all point to a neurological source.
These are just a few potential symptoms that identify a migraine versus a headache.
Myth #2 – The Solution to It Is More Medicine
There are two problems with this approach:
- Medication overuse – This issue is particularly common when it comes to over the counter medications. People view these as safe and may be taking them more often than recommended on the label. Most headache medications are not intended for frequent or long-term use and may cause rebound headaches if overused. Plus, we just established that migraines are much more than headaches, so all these pills do is help one symptom.
- Frequency of ineffectiveness – Take, for example, the recent case study noted above. It involved a young woman of just 23 years of age. She had been experiencing migraines for ten years, and they grew worse after a car accident that resulted in whiplash. She was taking three different medications for varying health conditions including her migraines. However, they were providing no relief. While some patients do get benefits from medication, this young woman’s story is far from uncommon.
Myth #3 – Your Migraines and Neck Pain Are Not Related
Neck pain is often left off of the migraine symptom list entirely, even though it is present for about 75% of patients. This was the situation in the case study we are referencing as well. The young woman had not only chronic migraines but also chronic neck pain. She even experienced lower back pain sometimes. No one seemed to consider these symptoms part of her migraines, and she received an explanation that the underlying cause of her migraines was unknown. This continued when her neck pain and migraines grew worse in the wake of a whiplash-type injury. However, neck problems can be related to migraines in several ways. Here are a few:
- Brainstem – The C1 vertebra, also called the atlas, surrounds and defends the brainstem. However, even a slight misalignment may have the opposite effect and place pressure on the brainstem. This can lead to inhibited function and may contribute to migraines.
- Blood flow – The cervical spine (neck bones) facilitates blood flow to the brain. Proper alignment is critical if the brain is going to receive a steady flow of the oxygen it needs. Therefore, misalignments may once again contribute to migraines.
- Cerebrospinal fluid drainage – Upright MRIs have been used to reveal that cerebrospinal fluid sometimes fails to drain properly when the upper cervical spine is out of alignment. These drainage issues can lead to pooling, increased pressure, and neurological problems.
Clearly, the same misalignments that could potentially cause neck pain may also contribute to the onset of conditions like migraines. Was this the situation of the girl in the recent case study? Let’s look at how she got help.
The Results of a Case Study Link Migraines and Neck Problems
The young woman in the study underwent upper cervical chiropractic care to correct misalignments in the top two bones of her neck. What was the result? She finally found the relief she had been searching for.
For example, the Headache Disability Index scores how much headaches (or in this case, migraines) are impacting a person’s life. Her score had been a 70 out of 100, revealing that she was severely affected by these frequent attacks. After upper cervical chiropractic care, she retook the test. Her disability score was only 28 out of 100. The migraines were not completely gone, but the impact they were having on her life decreased significantly.
Would you like to find a natural way to break free from chronic problems with migraines? If you are living with migraines, especially if you have a history of neck injury or pain, give an upper cervical practitioner in your area a call. Medically, there may be no known cause for your migraines, but an examination can reveal if you have the type of misalignment that could be a contributing factor. Upper cervical chiropractic may be just the thing for you.