Migraine Timeline: The Progression of An Episode

chiropractor for migraines

Migraine is a neurological condition that afflicts about 35 million Americans each year. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a simple head throbbing but rather a set of symptoms. Studies have yet to find its root cause but have found several possible triggers, including weather changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and dehydration. Additionally, research work has revealed that migraine episodes tend to have a pattern of progression. Some patients who visit a chiropractor for migraines share similar symptoms and experiences, especially during the four distinct phases of an episode. 

Are you familiar with these phases? How much do you know about the migraine time? If you have little to zero background on dealing with migraines, we encourage you to keep reading. Hopefully, our discussion on the migraine timeline can help you outline what you must do before the onset of worsening symptoms.


Signs You Could Be Suffering from Migraine

If you're having headaches but doubt their underlying cause, we suggest seeking a professional like a chiropractor for migraines or a headache specialist. This will help you gauge the severity of your condition and narrow down other possible explanations for your symptoms. Additionally, we strongly suggest keeping track of things such as:

  • Duration of your episodes
  • The severity of the symptoms
  • Noticeable triggers
  • Health and lifestyle risk factors (age, activity level, presence of comorbidities, etc.)
  • Vices or bad habits (drinking, smoking, etc.)

The more information you can collect, the better shot you have at taking back control of your health and wellbeing.

Four Stages of Migraine

Migraine is a debilitating condition that has four known phases. It mostly begins with the Prodrome Phase, followed by the Aura phase, attack phase, and post-drome. We will discuss all of them to help you set your expectations and find the most suitable coping strategy or relief option.

Prodrome Phase

Most people diagnosed with migraines start an episode with the prodrome phase. The prodrome phase is the period before the pain of a migraine attack occurs. It's not exactly clear what causes or how it comes about. However, studies indicate that it may stem from sudden changes in your brain chemicals or neurotransmitters. The prodrome phase may begin days or even weeks before the headache starts. During the prodrome phase, you might notice: 

  • Mood changes (such as depression or anxiety)
  • Hyperactivity and fatigue
  • Increased food cravings
  • Stiffness in your neck that limits head movements

Aura Phase

The aura phase can sometimes occur just before the headache phase and can last from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. It often causes visual or sensory disturbances such as:

  • Photophobia
  • Blurred vision 
  • Tunnel vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty verbalizing thoughts
  • Vertigo episodes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation

chiropractor for migraines

Attack Phase

The attack phase is the most severe part of a migraine that can cause severe symptoms for about 4 to 72 hours. Some examples of these symptoms include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, or smell
  • Fatigue, weakness, and confusion
  • Unilateral facial pain
  • Sensitivity to touch and pressure 

Post-drome Phase

Following the headache phase, you may experience post-drome. Many professionals refer to it as the hangover phase because it triggers lingering symptoms such as the following:

  • Confusion
  • Irritation, depression, and anxiety
  • Thirst or hunger
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Brain fog
  • Tiredness 
  • Lethargy

Doctors and researchers explain that post-drome happens primarily because of the first phases' mentally and physically taxing effects. Depending on your overall health condition, you may need to wait up to 72 hours before the symptoms disappear entirely.

How To Cope During the Different Migraine Phases

It can be quite daunting to deal with the distinct migraine phases. But, because you have already taken the first step – learning about the migraine timeline – you have a better chance of managing your episodes and minimizing the impact of your migraine symptoms in your life. 

Now, you should focus your attention on finding a suitable remedy. Notably, there are many scientifically proven ways to cope with recurring migraines. A few notable examples of these include: 

  • Upper cervical care
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Consult A Professional Chiropractor For Migraines

If you or someone you love suffers from migraines, book an appointment with your local chiropractor to see if they can help! 

A chiropractor for migraines can help you eliminate your symptoms by fixing postural problems along the cervical spine. After all, several studies have proven that misalignments in upper cervical spine can lead to neurovascular compression – one of the leading risk factors of migraine episodes.  

Displaced neck bones hinder your central nervous system from working correctly. They also set off a series of additional problems that can aggravate your situation, such as: 

  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Poor fluid drainage in the head
  • High susceptibility to central sensitization (a state of the CNS that overwhelms the body’s pain and pressure sensors)
  • Inefficient energy metabolism 

Thankfully, with the help of a trained upper cervical chiropractor, you can address such issues and help your body heal and recover. Cervical doctors run a series of tests to assess the postural problem and obtain the vectors needed during your C1 and C2 bone (topmost neck bones) adjustments. Additionally, upper cervical care doctors use gentle neck toggles to retrain your spine and activate your body’s innate ability to resolve health complaints like migraines. 

We suggest scanning through the Upper Cervical Awareness blog if you want more proof or resources on migraine and upper cervical chiropractic. Furthermore, you may find it helpful to use the UCA Doctors' Portal to locate the nearest practice or a chiropractor for migraines. Book your appointment with a doctor near you right now!

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.