Migraines affect up to 12% of people, meaning that about 39 million people are dealing with this debilitating neurological condition in the US alone. There are many categories of migraines, and one of those is ocular. What sets this type of a migraine apart? The patient experiences visual symptoms. If that sounds like you or someone you know, we encourage you to consider the following article. We will conclude with a natural way that many migraine sufferers are finding relief.
What Is an Ocular Migraine?
Since the term ocular migraine describes migraines with visual symptoms, this category runs the gamut from migraine with aura to silent migraines that cause temporary loss of vision in one eye. What are the symptoms of an ocular migraine?
Many symptoms of a general migraine may occur. For example, most migraines feature a moderate to severe headache (which is why some have the false impression that migraines are just a bad headache). In the case of migraine with aura, the headache is preceded by visual symptoms about 20-30 minutes before the pain begins. The symptoms of aura can include seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or even partial or total vision loss temporarily.
Silent migraines refer to migraines that do not have a headache as a symptom. Some ocular migraines cause loss of vision in one eye for about 30-60 minutes. An eye doctor can help to confirm that there is nothing physically wrong with the eye. This helps to confirm a diagnosis of optical migraines. Sometimes the eye experiencing the migraine symptoms will just have blurry vision rather than vision loss. Also, the patient may experience pain behind the eye. In this type of migraine, it is common for just one eye to be affected.
What Triggers Ocular Migraines?
Triggers vary from person to person, so the practice is becoming common to maintain a migraine journal. This will allow you to track your own triggers. Some are avoidable. Others are not but at least can provide a warning that a migraine could be on the way. Many people report the following occurrences before a migraine:
- Stress – High-stress levels are a very common trigger. This makes positive stress relief techniques a must for migraines patients. Negative stress relief techniques such as smoking and abusing alcohol can actually lead to more migraines. This may not relieve all migraines because another phenomenon with this neurological condition is the “let-down” migraine, which occurs when a person finally relaxes following a high-stress situation.
- Neck pain – As many as 75% of people report neck pain either before or during a migraine. That makes neck pain one of the most common migraine symptoms and telltale signs that an attack is on the way.
- Missing meals – Some patients at first mistake their symptoms for low blood sugar, thinking that visual problems are occurring because they haven’t had anything to eat for a while. If you get migraines, eating on a regular schedule is important because fasting or skipping meals are common triggers.
- Lack of sleep – A regular sleep schedule is also important for migraine sufferers. Those vision problem after a poor night of sleep may be more than just still having the sleep in your eyes. The missed rest may have triggered an ocular migraine. Adults require 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Creating the right conditions for sleep and going to bed/waking up at the same time each day are important ways to get better rest.
What Causes Migraines?
While there is no single underlying cause of migraines that has been identified, researchers are looking into numerous possibilities. Just a few of these include:
- Reduced blood flow to the brain – The brain requires a certain amount of blood flow to provide the oxygen it requires. If something is limiting the flow of blood, that may be the underlying issue.
- Inhibited brainstem function – The brainstem connects the spinal cord to the brain, making it a vital link in the central nervous system (CNS). If brainstem activity is being inhibited by something, the result can be migraines.
- Intracranial pressure – While this is often due to a serious head injury, it can also be caused in other ways. For example, if something is restricting proper cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage, then this can cause pressure to build. The pressure can, in turn, cause migraines.
It is interesting to note that all three of these conditions can be caused by the same underlying problem – a misalignment of the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae, located at the base of the skull. These bones protect the brainstem and facilitate proper flow of blood and CSF.
If you suffer from neck pain, have a history of head or neck trauma, or use poor posture on a regular basis, a misalignment in this sensitive area may be leading to your migraines. Is there a natural way to correct the issue?
Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Migraines
If the word chiropractor makes you nervous, we want to assure you that upper cervical chiropractic care is very different. Adjustments are precise, gentle (no popping or twisting), and only focus on the C1 and C2. Gentle adjustments may also last longer, which can make this a cost-effective form of care.
To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care, contact a practitioner in your area. You may find that a gentle adjustment or two can have significant benefits for your health, including helping with migraines.