What Causes Migraines? Different Types but a Common Cause!

Posted in Head Pain Disorders on 01/11/2018 00:00 AM

What Causes Migraines?

What causes migraines? Migraines with aura. Without aura. Vestibular migraines. Ocular (aka visual) migraines. Cluster migraines. Facial migraines. If you experience migraines, may I ask you a few questions? … Do you really care what its called?

Do you even care what the cause is? Ultimately, if are you like most people who experience any type of migraine, the only thing you care about is what you can do about it! I will cut through these three questions as quickly as possible,

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Question #1: What type of migraine is it?

The name of your migraine is usually irrelevant. It simply describes the location of your symptoms in Latin instead of in English.

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  • Migraine + abnormal visual signals = aura or “snow”
  • Migraine + abnormal auditory signals = tinnitus or loss of hearing
  • Migraine + abnormal balance signals = dizziness or vertigo
  • Migraine + abnormal digestive signals = nausea or vomiting
  • Migraine + abnormal motor signals = muscle weakness or tremors
  • Migraine + abnormal blood flow signals = sweating or anxiety


Question #2: What is causing your migraine?

This is a bit more important. There are three prevailing theories about what causes a migraine.

  1. Irritation of the dura mater, which is the connective tissue that protects your brain from your skull.
  2. Irritation of the connective tissues that surround the blood vessels that go to your brain; and
  3. Oversensitivity of the cells in your brainstem (called the Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus) that are responsible for processing all sensory and pain information about your head and face.1,2

Whatever the mechanism or theory, the question remains: what causes migraines?? More importantly, what is causing the irritation? I’m sure that you are aware that there are many different categories of migraine.

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In fact, you can spend thousands of dollars out of pocket seeing specialist after specialist after specialist just to get the name of your condition … but the reality is that it doesn’t really matter at all! The reason is that the only real difference among the potential names of your condition is which tissues are being affected at any given moment.

  • Classic Migraine without Aura… Dura & blood vessel irritation
  • Classic Migraine with Aura … Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting the visual lobe
  • Hemiplegic Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting the motor lobe
  • Cluster Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation only affecting half of the brain
  • Temporal Migraine … Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting blood vessels
  • Vestibular Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting balance nerves
  • Visual Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting sight nerves
  • Auditory Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting hearing nerves
  • Abdominal Migraine… Dura & blood vessel irritation also affecting digestive nerves

To be blunt, it doesn’t matter one iota what the name of your migraine is! What I want to know is what causes migraines. What is causing that irritation in the first place, and how do we resolve it?

A Natural Solution - The Role of the Upper Neck in Migraines

Chemical sensitivities (e.g., food, water, air, etc), hormonal changes, and stress are all significant things that trigger migraines in people. However, a common feature shared among migraine sufferers is an underlying physical injury that is physically irritating the connective tissues and blood vessels. 

The physical injuries I am referring to can fit into three categories: 1) cranial, which refers to the skull; 2) dental, which relates to the jaw (and can be caused by wearing braces); and 3) cervical, which refers to the neck: specifically the upper 3 vertebrae in the neck - the C1 (atlas), C2 (axis) and/or C3.

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Question #3: What can you do about your migraines?

One of the things that we specialize in at Atlas Health in North Lakes, Brisbane is determining which among these possible physical causes is responsible for your migraines. We are not cranial specialists or dentists … so if we determine that the cause of your migraines is cranial or dental in origin, we will refer you to a doctor or dentist who will be able to help you!

Our specialty is in the cervical spine and correcting issues there that contribute towards migraines. And if we determine that the cause of your migraines is coming from your upper neck, then our hope and expectation are that we will be able to help you.

Have You Tried Upper Cervical Care to Help Your Migraines?

Dr. Jeffrey Hannah is one of the foremost experts in Upper cervical chiropractic in Australia with over 10 years of experience. “What we do is different, which is important. There is no sense in doing the same things you have already tried.

You’ll only get the same result. … Even if you have tried general chiropractic to help you, I would make sure that you see an upper cervical specific doctor to determine if there is something more that can be done to help you.”

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  1. Brennan KC, Charles A. An update on the blood vessel in migraine. Curr Opin Neurol. 2010 Jun;23(3):266-74. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32833821c1.
  2. Phebus LA and Johnson KW. Dural inflammation model of migraine pain. Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2001 May;Chapter 9:Unit9.1. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0901s06.
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