If you have migraines, you knowjust how debilitating they can be. You can be knocked out ofcommission for a few days while you are recovering from one.Migraines are a genetic neurological disease and are totallydifferent from regular headaches. Here are some interestingfacts about migraines you may not be aware of:
- Approximately 1 billion people worldwide suffer frommigraines.
- Migraines rank 3rd on the list of most-prevalent illnessesaround the world.
- Migraines occur most often between the ages of 25 and 55.
- About 90 percent of migraine sufferers have family members withmigraines.
- Women get migraines 3 times more often than men.
- Around 25 percent of those with migraines have an aura, aneurological symptom that warns of the impending head pain.
- Attacks can last as long as 72 hours.
- Medication overuse headaches are the most common reason forepisodic migraines to turn chronic.
- Out of every 4 women, 1 will have migraines at some point inher life.
- Around 10 percent of school-age children have migraines.
Migraines are considered to be primary headaches (instead ofsecondary) as they are not caused by another disease or disordersuch as a brain tumor. Sometimes you may have pain on the rightside or left side of your head, but in a third of cases, you willexperience pain on both sides.
The pain is moderate to severe and hinders you from performingyour normal, daily activities. Most often, you will find relief bylying down in a cool, dark room and resting. Symptoms include:
- Throbbing and pulsating pain
- Sound sensitivity
- Light sensitivity
- Visual changes and blurry vision
- Sensitivity to certain odors
- Stiff neck
Scientists May Have Found the Solution to Migraines
This may sound exciting for those that suffer from thiscondition. However, the discoveries we are referring to here were done a couple ofdecades ago. With that being said, it is still important to take aclose look at it so as to find out how best to help migrainepain.
A study observed 9 patients with migraines. Brain scans wereperformed within six hours of the beginning of a migraine attackand indicated persistent hyperactivity in the brainstem located atthe base of the brain. The scans showed there was a possiblemigraine “generator” in the area where the brainstem meets themidbrain, according to Dr. Hans Christoph Diener.
It seems as if migraines may occur because the generator losescontrol over the part of the brainstem handling the perception ofpain and the expanding and contracting of blood vessels.
When these areas become overactive, they may lead to migraines.They discovered the generator even continues to fire after amigraine has gone away. This may be the reason that many patientssay after a migraine they feel tired as if they are still sufferingfrom the attack.
In addition, when the patients were given sumatriptan, ananti-migraine medication, the symptoms were relieved but thebrainstem overactivity continued. Dr. Seymour Diamond, director ofthe Headache Clinic in Chicago, Illinois, USA, said that this maybe why, in some people, migraines return after 4 to 6 hours of asingle shot of sumatriptan.
This is true in about 20 to 30 percent of patients withmigraines. What’s the reason for this? Sumatriptan cannot reach thebrainstem, and it only works on relieving pain outside thebrain.
More Research About Migraines
Additional research about migraines has revealed more important factorsthat contribute to the pain. For one thing, the trigeminal nerve,the main sensory nerve of the face and head, and the main conduitof pain is activated.
The nerve endings then release neuropeptides (inflammatorychemicals) causing nerves to become irritated and blood vessels todilate, leading to pain. There are also changes in the electricalactivity of the brain, causing you to feel dizziness, inability toconcentrate, and extreme exhaustion.
Some people feel as if they have the flu due to the fact thatthe entire brain is in an uproar during a migraine episode. Bloodflow also changes in regards to the brain’s cortex and brainstemduring migraines. This causes the brain’s activity to remain high,as we talked about above.
A particular area of the brainstem contains large amounts ofserotonin, a neurotransmitter, and this is recognized as acontributor to migraines. Decreased blood flow to the occipitalarea of the brain is also seen. This is possibly the reason visualsymptoms occur during a migraine. This reduced blood flow lasts fora few hours, along with the electrical activity changes in thebrain.
Finding Relief for the Pain of Migraines
So, we must find out why these changes are taking place in thebrain and brainstem in order to find the solution to the pain ofmigraines. One thing that has been discovered is that amisalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularlythe C1 and C2, may play a huge role in the above-mentionedchanges.
When a misalignment exists in this area of the neck, it cannegatively impact the body in a few ways. For one thing, it can actas a kind of block - not allowing blood and cerebrospinal fluid toleave or enter the brain in the proper amounts.
This can cause intracranial pressure that irritates nerves inthe brain or reduces proper blood flow to certain areas of thebrain. Either of these can cause migraines. Another thing thathappens when the top neck bones are misaligned is the brainstem isput under pressure.
These bones are supposed to support and protect the brainstem,but injury causes them to do the opposite. If the brainstem isstressed, it may send improper signals to the brain. This, again,can be a contributing factor to migraine pain.
Here at Atlas Health Australia, we use a gentle and effectivemethod to help realign the bones of the neck. Once corrected, manypatients reportseeing their migraines improve greatly or go away entirely.To schedule, a complimentary consultation call our NorthLakes Queensland office at 07-3188-9329