If you have migraines, you know just how debilitating they can be. You can be knocked out of commission for a few days while you are recovering from one. Migraines are a genetic neurological disease and are totally different from regular headaches. Here are some interesting facts about migraines you may not be aware of:
- Approximately 1 billion people worldwide suffer from migraines.
- Migraines rank 3rd on the list of most-prevalent illnesses around the world.
- Migraines occur most often between the ages of 25 and 55.
- About 90 percent of migraine sufferers have family members with migraines.
- Women get migraines 3 times more often than men.
- Around 25 percent of those with migraines have an aura, a neurological symptom that warns of the impending head pain.
- Attacks can last as long as 72 hours.
- Medication overuse headaches are the most common reason for episodic migraines to turn chronic.
- Out of every 4 women, 1 will have migraines at some point in her life.
- Around 10 percent of school-age children have migraines.
Migraines are considered to be primary headaches (instead of secondary) as they are not caused by another disease or disorder such as a brain tumor. Sometimes you may have pain on the right side or left side of your head, but in a third of cases, you will experience pain on both sides.
The pain is moderate to severe and hinders you from performing your normal, daily activities. Most often, you will find relief by lying 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 this condition. However, the discoveries we are referring to here were done a couple of decades ago. With that being said, it is still important to take a close look at it so as to find out how best to help migraine pain.
A study observed 9 patients with migraines. Brain scans were performed within six hours of the beginning of a migraine attack and indicated persistent hyperactivity in the brainstem located at the base of the brain. The scans showed there was a possible migraine “generator” in the area where the brainstem meets the midbrain, according to Dr. Hans Christoph Diener.
It seems as if migraines may occur because the generator loses control over the part of the brainstem handling the perception of pain 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 a migraine has gone away. This may be the reason that many patients say after a migraine they feel tired as if they are still suffering from the attack.
In addition, when the patients were given sumatriptan, an anti-migraine medication, the symptoms were relieved but the brainstem overactivity continued. Dr. Seymour Diamond, director of the Headache Clinic in Chicago, Illinois, USA, said that this may be why, in some people, migraines return after 4 to 6 hours of a single shot of sumatriptan.
This is true in about 20 to 30 percent of patients with migraines. What’s the reason for this? Sumatriptan cannot reach the brainstem, and it only works on relieving pain outside the brain.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.
More Research About Migraines
Additional research about migraines has revealed more important factors that contribute to the pain. For one thing, the trigeminal nerve, the main sensory nerve of the face and head and a main conduit of pain, is activated.
The nerve endings then release neuropeptides (inflammatory chemicals) causing nerves to become irritated and blood vessels to dilate, leading to pain. There are also changes in the electrical activity of the brain, causing you to feel dizziness, inability to concentrate, and extreme exhaustion.
Some people feel as if they have the flu due to the fact that the entire brain is in an uproar during a migraine episode. Blood flow also changes in regards to the brain’s cortex and brainstem during migraines. This causes the brain’s activity to remain high, as we talked about above.
A particular area of the brainstem contains large amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, and this is recognized as a contributor to migraines. Decreased blood flow to the occipital area of the brain is also seen. This is possibly the reason visual symptoms occur during a migraine. This reduced blood flow lasts for a few hours, along with the electrical activity changes in the brain.
Finding Relief for the Pain of Migraines
So, we must find out why these changes are taking place in the brain and brainstem in order to find the solution to the pain of migraines. One thing that has been discovered is that a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the C1 and C2, may play a huge role in the above-mentioned changes.
When a misalignment exists in this area of the neck, it can negatively impact the body in a few ways. For one thing, it can act as a kind of block - not allowing blood and cerebrospinal fluid to leave or enter the brain in the proper amounts.
This can cause intracranial pressure that irritates nerves in the brain or reduces proper blood flow to certain areas of the brain. Either of these can cause migraines. Another thing that happens when the top neck bones are misaligned is the brainstem is put under pressure.
These bones are supposed to support and protect the brainstem, but injury causes them to do the opposite. If the brainstem is stressed, 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 effective method to help realign the bones of the neck. Once corrected, many patients report seeing their migraines improve greatly or go away entirely. To schedule a complimentary consultation call our North Lakes Queensland office at 07-3188-9329