migraines-causes-different-types-and-where-to-find-helpMigraines are difficult to understand. Even researchers and doctors are puzzled. However, some advances in technology have helped us see how the nervous system and the brain work in conjunction with each other. This helps us understand that the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head is not necessarily the primary source of migraine pain.

Theories on Origin of Migraines

It is now believed by researchers that migraines are a neurological disorder involving brain chemicals and nerve pathways.

It has also been established that migraines often are genetic. However, this is not the only answer as not everyone has a genetic link. This means the environment is involved in the development of migraines also.

Almost everyone has experienced a headache at some point in their life. But it is important to understand that migraines are not just really bad headaches. Rather, a headache is one of the symptoms of a migraine. These headaches are severe and are described as pounding or throbbing pain. In two-thirds of the cases, this head pain is located on one side of the head. Migraine attacks can last anywhere between 4 and 72 hours. The following symptoms may also be present:

  • Visual disturbances
  • Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, light, and certain odors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities or the face

Migraines are as unique as the person experiencing them. No two people will have the same symptoms. In fact, the same person may have different symptoms with different migraines.


What Causes Migraines?

Researchers don’t know for sure what brings on migraines. However, as mentioned, brain chemicals may play a role. The decrease of the brain chemical serotonin, in particular, has been seen to be a problem. Other things act as a trigger for migraines:

  • Changes in the weather — barometric pressure
  • Excessive stress
  • Loud noises
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Severe change in weather, such as temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Intense physical activity
  • Skipping meals leading to low blood sugar
  • Changes in hormones — fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone during menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy
  • Changes in sleep patterns or not getting enough sleep
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Odd smells
  • Medications such as nitroglycerin or oral contraceptives

Certain food can act as a trigger for migraines in some people:

  • Drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
  • Nitrates, MSG, aspartame, or other food additives
  • Tyramine — this occurs naturally in some foods and increases when food is fermented. Be aware of such foods as aged cheeses, soy sauce, and sauerkraut.


Types of Migraines

Did you know there is more than one type of a migraine? Let’s look at two common types and what they are.

  • Migraine without aura: Previously referred to as common migraine, no aura is experienced with this migraine type. The International Headache Society says that for one to be diagnosed with migraines without aura, you must have had at least 5 attacks and the following must be true:
    • Headaches lasting 4 to 72 hours
    • Two of the following:
      • Unilateral head pain (one-sided)
      • Pain described as moderate to severe
      • Pain worsens when you move, walk, or climb stairs
      • Pain is pulsating or throbbing
    • One of the following:
      • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
      • Sensitivity to sound (phonophobia)
      • Nausea with or without vomiting or diarrhea
    • Your migraine is not being caused by another health problem
  • Migraine with aura: Previously called classic migraine, complicated migraine, or hemiplegic migraine, this migraine type occurs in 25 percent of those with migraines. To be diagnosed you must have had two attacks with the following symptoms:
    • An aura that completely goes away and is reversible, along with one of the following:
      • Problems moving or a feeling of weakness lasting as long as 72 hours
      • Visual problems (the most common symptom of an aura)
      • Problems with speech or finding the right word
      • Sensory problems with the tongue, face, or body — numbness and tingling or dizziness
      • Brainstem issues, such as:
        • Decreased consciousness
        • Double vision
        • Ringing in the ears
        • Problems talking or unclear speech
        • Vertigo — a spinning feeling
        • Problems hearing
        • Ataxia or problems controlling body movements
      • Eye problems in only one eye, which may include flashing lights, temporary blindness, or blind spots. This is called a retinal migraine.
    • An aura with two of the following:
      • Happens with a headache or about an hour before
      • Vision, speech, or language problems happening on only one side of the head
      • At least one symptom spreading gradually over five or more minutes
      • Each symptom of the aura must last at least five minutes to as long as one hour. If you have three symptoms, they may last three hours.
    • A headache that is not caused by another health problem


Upper Cervical Chiropractic Helps Migraines

Whether you have migraines with or without aura or another type entirely, upper cervical chiropractic care has proven to be effective in caring for them. A study observing 101 migraine and headache patients saw an interesting link between migraines and a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the top two bones of the spine. Out of the 101 people in the study, 87 people recalled having specific trauma to their head or neck in the past. It was discovered all of them had a misalignment present in their neck. After a gentle adjustment to this area, all of them reported seeing a great improvement in their head pain. Some saw their migraines go away and not return.


To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 248-831-0729 or just click the button below.

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If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.