Conditions We Treat

Migraines

Migraines

Migraines

Migraines are a neurological disorder that cause a painful throbbing or pulsating sensation on one side of the head. While migraines  are unlikely to cause death, it can negatively impact on one’s quality of life due to having very limited control over something so painful and distressing. Migraines are unlike other types of headaches because they can be intense due to multiple aggravating factors. Migraines are also associated with nausea, vomiting, visual and/or sensory changes. 

Sadly, migraines affect over 3 million Australians who are predominantly their 20s or 30s. Migraines can also be a major health issue in young children as well.

Symptoms:

The International Headache Society classifies a headache as a migraine when:

(a) The pain can be classified by at least two of the following;

  • One sided
  • Moderate to severe
  • Throbbing
  • Aggravated by movement

(b) There is at least one of the following associated symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Phonophobia (sensitivity to noise)

Other symptoms that may be experienced include:

  • Osmophobia (sensitivity to smell)
  • Difficulty in concentrating, confusion
  • A feeling of being generally unwell
  • Ear pain
  • Paralysis or loss of consciousness (rare)
  • Problems with articulation or co-ordination
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stiffness of the neck and shoulders
  • Tingling, pins and needles or numbness or even one-sided limb weakness
  • Speech disturbance

Causes

The exact cause of migraines is still unknown, but its thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals and irritation or traction of blood vessels around the head and the neck. The brain lacks pain receptors which means it is not sensitive to pain. However, underneath the muscles that cover the head and neck, there are arteries outside the skull, large veins, spinal nerves and blood vessels which have nociceptors. Nociceptors are essentially “pain receptors” which are brain cells which can sense pain by transmitting a signal which travels along a chain of nerves via the spinal cord to the brain. 

Often the muscles that cover the head, neck and shoulders get really tight from poor posture which then cause irritation or put pressure on the blood vessels and some of the surrounding nerves. Once a blood vessel or nerve is compressed by a short and tight muscle, a nociceptor sends a message up the length of the nerve fiber to the nerve cells in the brain, signalling that a part of the body hurts.

 While the cause of migraines are unknown, our approach of addressing the muscles that cause irritation to the blood vessels and some of the surrounding nerves have allowed our clients to overcome their migraines. With lifestyle changes, we can help you overcome this disabling condition. 

Triggers

There are a number of migraine triggers, including:

        Hormonal changes in women 
  • Fluctuations in estrogen before or during menstrual periods
  • Pregnancy 
  • Menopause
        Drinks 
  • Alcohol 
  • Caffeinated drinks 
        Stress
        Sensory stimuli 
  • Bright lights and sun glares 
  • Strong smells including perfume
        Sleep changes 
  • Too little sleep 
  • Too much sleep 
  • Jet lag 
        Weather changes including changes in barometric pressure
        Medications
  • Oral contraceptives 
  • Vasodilators such as Nitroglycerin
        Food additives 
  • Sweeteners such as Aspartame 
  • Preservatives such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) found in many foods

 

Resources

Headache Australia. www.headacheaustralia.org.au

Headache and migraine Australia www.headache.com.au

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