Migraines are a type of headache caused by excessive neurovascular dilation. Migraine attacks are characterized by throbbing, recurring headaches, typically affecting only one side of the head. Onset is sudden, and pain is usually severe. Visual, auditory, neurological, or gastrointestinal symptoms may appear 10 to 30 minutes before head pain or may accompany the headache. The duration may be from a few hours to several days.

Dr. Andrew Arnold says, ‘True migraine headaches affect approximately 10% of the population and are more common in females than males.’

True migraine is consistently present with aura, which provides warning of the upcoming attack. Migraines may begin at any age; they are most common between age 10 and 30 and may vanish after age 50 or, in women, after menopause.

The underlying etiology of migraines is not known, though abnormal serotonin metabolism has been implicated in the pathogenesis of this disease. The serotonin causes blood vessels to the brain and scalp to constrict and then dilate, irritating surrounding nerves and resulting in pulsating or pounding pain with blood flow. Cranbourne Family Chiropractic are dedicated to relieving your pain quickly and providing effective strategies for long term wellness

Etiology/ Risk Factors

Risk factors that can contribute to the incidence of migraine include:

  • The family history of migraine
  • History of motion sickness, recurrent vomiting spells
  • Levels of blood magnesium below normal levels
  • Smoking
  • Vasoactive medications (e.g., antihypertensives)
  • Hypersensitivity to foods or odors
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Menstruation/hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Hypothyroidism

Symptoms & Signs

Common signs and symptoms of migraine include the following:

  • Aura preceding headache: irritability, restlessness, hearing or vision disturbances, numbness, weakness, or tingling sensations may precede head pain or may be present with headache
  • Severe, throbbing, usually unilateral headache
  • Headache accompanied by increased sensitivity to light and noise
  • Headache persists for hours and if untreated may last days
  • Pounding pain worsens with movement or bending
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Near-syncope, vertigo
  • Feet and hands may be cold and cyanosed
  • Scalp arteries may be prominent

Diet and Lifestyle

Dietary and lifestyle guidelines may assist in the management of migraine:

  • Cold compresses to forehead and eyes, complete immobility, and minimization of light, noise, and odor are management approaches.
  • Allergy identification and elimination: Elimination/challenge diets have been shown to effect a 30% to 93% decrease in migraines. Patient eliminates suspected food allergens for two weeks and then reintroduces the foods and/or additives, noting the response. Once the offending agents are identified, they generally need to be eliminated for six months, and then they may be reintroduced. While effective, elimination/challenge diets are more challenging in hormonally influenced migraines. Some common allergens are alcohol (especially red wine), cheese, chocolate, citrus, cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, coffee, tea, beef, pork, corn, tomato, rye, yeast, and shellfish. Food additives (preservatives and coloring) and nitrates are also common irritants.
  • Caffeine should be avoided due to its vasoactive effects.
  • Appropriate regular aerobic exercise—brisk walking, gardening, low impact aerobics, and water aerobics—are among the options that reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine episodes. Stretching, yoga, massage, and other stress management techniques can also be quite helpful, as can craniosacral therapy.
  • Massage may help release chronic neck and shoulder tension that may exacerbate migraines.
  • Acupuncture may help
  • Keep a headache diary to record migraine triggers. Identified triggers should be avoided.
  • Increase intake of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds).

Depending on where you are in your treatment program naturopathic treatment can offer a large range of herbal and nutritional support to relieve acute attacks to elevate pain and inflammation, while at the same time addressing the underlying causative factors to prevent further attacks. Overwhelmed by health and dietary advice?

Call our reception on 59984554 and make an appointment to see our Naturopath today.

About the Author:

Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor from Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.

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