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Migraine headaches have become part of our everyday lingo. Many times, if someone is having a severe headache, they assume they’re having a migraine. There are many different types of headaches, many of which respond well to chiropractic care. However, the question remains:
What is a migraine?
A migraine is defined as recurring episodes of one sided headaches that are usually throbbing and can last 1 to 3 days. Some migraine sufferer see an aura, also known as a visual disturbance, but others may not.
There are two types of migraines classic migraine and common migraine.
According to the International Headache Society the criteria for a classic migraine are:
- Migraine with aura
- Minimum of 2 attacks of headache with any 3 of the following:
- Reversible aura
- Aura develops gradually over 4 min+
- Aura does not last more than 1 hour
- Unilateral headache follows the aura
- With at least 1 of the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- phonophobia or photophobia
- Aura may show a blind spot (scotoma)
- Surrounded by flashing lights (scintillation)
The International Headache Society criteria for a common migraine are:
- Migraine without aura [common]
- Minimum of 5 attacks
- Plus any 2 of the following:
- Unilateral location
- Pulsatile quality
- Worse on climbing stairs
- At least 1 of the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Photophobia or phonophobia
The primary difference between Classic Migraines and Common Migraines is the absence or presence of visual disturbances.
Despite the fact that there are differences between the two types of migraines, the causes and treatments for both types of migraines are the same.
What causes migraines?
To date there is no one true cause of migraines. Genetics seems to play a role along with hormonal changes and dietary triggers.
Triggers for migraines include:
- Hormonal changes, especially in women during their menstrual cycle
- Foods such as cheese, salt and high nitrate foods (processed foods)
- Drinks such as alcohol and highly caffeinated drinks
- Changes in sleep patterns and environment
- Physical activity
- Sensory stimuli such as bright light or smells of certain foods
What are the treatments for migraines?
There are many medications available to someone who suffers from migraines. OTC painkillers can help to reduce the pain of a migraine.
Chiropractic care and lifestyle changes can make a huge impact on migraine episodes.
Dealing with the triggers in one’s diet and relieving tension in cervical muscles can help to reduce the pain and frequency of migraines.
It is important to note that migraines to date cannot be cured; however migraines can be managed through lifestyle modifications. Discovering your migraine triggers can help you to avoid those triggers in the future. Stress reduction is also an important part of controlling migraine headaches.
If you are experiencing migraine headaches and wish to discuss your treatments options, please contact us.