Migraines are known for pounding and throbbing pain that usually affects one side of the head and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound, light, and certain odors. Sometimes visual disturbances and dizziness are present also. Migraines are neurological in origin and do not always have to have a headache involved. A headache is the most common symptom of a migraine but does not always have to be present.
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How Let-Down Migraines Feel Like
Have you ever experienced one of the following scenarios?
- You have final exams coming up that you have studied extensively for. You make it through the exams just fine, but when they are over, you are hit with a massive migraine.
- You have been looking forward to going on vacation all year. However, you must spend the first day curled up in bed in a dark, cool room, nursing a migraine.
- You get through your workweek handling all kinds of stressors. But once the weekend hits, you get blasted with a migraine.
These types of migraines are referred to as let-down migraines. We are all familiar with stress being a trigger to bring on migraines. However, let-down migraines are the opposite. They come about when stress is being released.
Findings in a Recent Study About Let-Down Migraines
Migraine sufferers who have reduced stress levels from one day to the next have an increased risk for getting a migraine the next day, according to a study conducted at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. Researchers discovered, in this study, that the relaxing period following the period of extreme stress put migraine sufferers at a heightened risk of developing a migraine.
Migraines are a chronic condition that impacts the lives of around 39 million of those living in the United States. To conduct the above-mentioned study, researchers used a 3-month electronic daily diary study that gathered 2,011 diary records and noticed 110 eligible migraines in the 17 individuals participating in the study. Levels of stress and reduction in stress levels were examined as possible predictors of migraines.
Lead author Richard B. Lipton stated that the results they saw were quite striking. He noted the results were strongest during the first 6 hours after a stressful event was over. The risk of getting a migraine at this point increased 500%! He believes that the hormone cortisol – which rises during times of stress and reduces pain – may be the contributing factor to triggering headaches during periods of downtime.
The data that was used during the study was collected using a custom-programmed electronic diary. The participants used it every day to record information about their specific migraines. These included two types of stress ratings and common migraine triggers, including certain foods and drinks, alcohol, menstruation cycles, and hours of sleep. It also asked them to record their moods – happy, sad, nervous, lively, bored, and relaxed.
This study really shows how important it is to manage stress and live a healthy lifestyle for those who have to live with migraines, according to Dawn C. Buse, Ph.D. It is vital for these migraine sufferers to be aware of rising stress levels and try to keep the stress from building up too much. This can be done through exercises such as taking a relaxing walk or practicing stress relieving exercises and breathing.
Tips for Managing Stress to Reduce Let-Down Migraines
Here are a few more suggestions that are good to get in the habit of doing so as to keep your stress levels more evened out. From the above information, we can see that stress peaks and valleys are very dangerous to migraine sufferers. So, trying some of the following may help reduce migraines.
- Short bursts of exercise: Take the stairs, park at the far end of the parking lot, or walk the long way home after a stressful day. This can bring about a positive immune response.
- Work your brain: Rather than just letting your brain relax, try doing some mental problem solving like crossword puzzles or math computations at a rapid, timed pace. This also improves immune-system activity.
- Regularly practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing gives your mind and body a rest from the day’s stressors. Simply paying attention to your breathing can calm you down immensely. Consciously try to get yourself to slow down in your breathing, taking deeper breaths, and exhaling slowly. This can be done anywhere and can lower your heart rate, slow down your brain waves, and reduce your blood pressure.
An All-Natural Way to Alleviate the Pain of Migraines
Another way to reduce stress on the spine and neck is to make sure the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the C1 and C2 are in proper alignment. These bones are responsible for keeping the heavy head balanced over the neck. However, because of their unique shape and location, they are often susceptible to misaligning with very little impact to the head or neck. Something as simple as a trip and fall, a car accident (whiplash), or a sports injury can cause these bones to shift out of place. When this happens, a number of different processes go on within the body to lead to migraines.
For one thing, blood flow to and from the brain can be obstructed by the misalignment. Another thing that can occur is the misalignment puts stress on the brainstem located in the same area and causes it to malfunction. This means the wrong signals about the body are sent to the brain. The spine also has to shift and twist to compensate for the misalignment, and this can lead to an irritation of nerves and muscles of the neck. All of this can lead to migraines.
Here at Balanced Living Chiropractic in Rochester Hills, Michigan, we use a gentle and precise method to help realign the neck bones without the need for popping or cracking. This technique helps the bones to move naturally into place and provides longer-lasting results. Many have seen their migraines improve greatly once their upper cervical spine is back in shape.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 248-831-0729 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.