We have heard many people mistakenly refer to migraines as just severe headaches. Being a professional migraine chiropractic clinic in Kelowna, British Columbia, CA, we have a responsibility to correct this misunderstanding. Migraines are much more than just headaches. While a severe headache is one of its hallmarks, a headache can be absent during a migraine.
Symptoms of Migraines
Migraines are a neurological disorder that causes pounding or throbbing head pain and other debilitating symptoms such as the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and odor
- Eye pain
Other Headache Types That Can Give Severe Pain
It is important to remember that not all headaches are migraines. In addition, migraines are not the only condition to give severe headaches.
Cluster headaches may cause extremely severe head pains that affect one side of the head in a cyclical pattern. The pain can be drilling and may get worse than migraine pain. Tension headaches can also give intense headaches, and they occur when the muscles of the face, scalp, and neck tense up due to physical or emotional stress.
Understanding Migraines with an Aura
Some people experience a specific warning sign that occurs before the pain of migraine called an aura. It varies from person to person. It can be things such as seeing flashing lights that aren’t really there, a sudden blind spot in one eye, or numbness on one side of the body. It usually lasts for several minutes and subsides as the head pain begins. Sometimes it lasts the period of a migraine episode. These symptoms are often similar to the symptoms of a stroke.
The 4 Stages of a Migraine Episode
Migraine attacks often move through four stages, although not every person experiences all four. The four stages are explained below:
- Prodrome: As many as 60% of people with migraines experience this phase. It can start anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days before the onset of the pain. Some of its symptoms are cravings for a particular food, sensitivity to strong odors or loud sounds, moodiness, tiredness, euphoria or depression, irritability, diarrhea or constipation, and stiff neck muscles.
- Aura: As we’ve mentioned earlier, this can either be a visual or sensory disturbance that happens before or during a headache. It’s not always present in all migraine episodes.
- Pain: Migraine pain can be moderate to severe in intensity. It comes on gradually. Any physical activity can make migraine pain worse. It’s either one-sided or bilateral. Bilateral pain is more common in non-aura migraines. The pain may last for 4 hours to 3 days. During this stage, you may experience confusion, lightheadedness, or vertigo.
- Postdrome: This is the recovery stage, or the phase after the headache. Some people experience impaired thinking and soreness in the affected areas of the migraine. It is frequently compared to the feeling of a hangover and may involve head pain, mood changes, cognitive issues, weakness, and gastrointestinal problems.
Medications and Other Migraine Relief Options
Doctors often recommend medications to help with migraines. One of the most commonly prescribed medication for migraines is a triptan. Here are some common triptans:
- Rizatriptan – Maxalt or Maalt-MLT
- Sumatriptan – Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose, Sumavel DosePro, Zecuity
- Almotriptan – Axert
- Zolmitriptan – Zomig or Zomig-ZMT
- Eletriptan – Relpax
- Frovatriptan – Frova
- Naratriptan – Amerge
While these medications provide temporary relief, they often come with dangerous side effects. Other methods to get relief from migraines are the following:
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding specific foods that may trigger migraine pain
- Eating a healthy diet
- Doing some relaxation techniques
A List of Migraine Triggers
Doctors and migraine professionals recommend that patients keep a migraine journal. Recording every detail of your day can help you recognize trigger factors and warning signs of migraines, and eventually avoid them. Every day, write down the foods you eat, the weather conditions, what type of stress you endure, and what activities you do. Here’s a list of possible migraine triggers:
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Too much stress
- Fluctuations in hormones during menstruation
- Changes in barometric pressure
- Oral contraceptives such as birth control pills
- Exposure to loud noises, bright lights, or strong odors
- Alcoholic beverages
- Certain foods or food additives:
- Red wine
- Dairy products
- Aged cheeses
- Nitrates used to preserve cured meat
- Artificial sweeteners
- MSG – monosodium glutamate
Natural Treatment for Migraines in Kelowna, BC
An often overlooked cause of migraines is a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, specifically the C1 and C2 vertebrae. This is something that upper cervical chiropractors like us here at Functional Spinal Care know very well. One natural method to achieve relief from migraines is through upper cervical chiropractic care. This approach ensures the bones of the upper cervical spine are in proper alignment. Any misalignment in this area of the neck can put the brainstem under pressure, which may result in the sending of improper signals to the brain. Another negative impact of these types of misalignments is the obstruction of the flow of the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. This becomes a perfect opportunity for migraines to occur.
If you are looking for natural care that works, visit our professional migraine treatment center. A friendly and trustworthy Canadian migraine chiropractor based in Kelowna, British Columbia, we use a gentle and calculated method to encourage the bones to return into place, without using strong force on the spine. Once corrected, the regular communication and blood flow between your brain and body can return to normal. And you can say hello to more migraine-free days.