How are migraines different from headaches?

…And How Should You Treat Them?

This is a great blog article on migraines written by Dele, one of our chiros here at C1.   We see headaches and migraines probably every day – so he does know his stuff.

If you are one of those who suffer, have a read:

Most people experience headaches sporadically through their lives.  Luckily, most are not too adversely affected by them.  However, there is a severe type of headache called a migraine. These can keep returning and be incredibly debilitating.  It is estimated by the NHS that around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men are affected by migraines[1]. These usually begin in early adulthood.

The exact cause of migraines is still somewhat unknown. The current understanding is that there is a temporary change in the chemicals and blood vessels of the brain.

Types

A migraine is typically experienced as a severe headache, often with a throbbing pain in the front or sides of the head.  Some people have other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound or smells.  They can also last from a few hours to a few days.

There are different types of migraine.  There are migraines with aura.  This is where there are warning signs of the migraine in the form of visual disturbance such as seeing spots, lights or blurred lines.  Strangely, it is even possible to have a migraine aura without the accompanying headache.  And there are also migraines that occur without warning.

There are also many different possible triggers for migraines.  These can include stress (and how stress is handled), food and drink triggers, sleep patterns, hormones and tension (especially in the neck).

What to do?

To manage migraines in a regular sufferer, identification of a specific trigger is essential.  Behavioural or lifestyle changes also play an important part in the treatment.  Avoidance of certain foods or maintenance of a regular sleep pattern may be key.  Chiropractic treatment also has the ability to alleviate some contributory factors or after effects.  This can include relieving restriction in movement and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders.  It may also include helping to correct any postural issues.  These may influence the occurrence of both migraine and tension headaches.

Are you one of the sufferers? If so what do you find helps and what are your triggers?

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/pages/introduction.aspx

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