Unless you suffer from migraines yourself or have a close friend or family member who does, it might be difficult to understand why they can be so debilitating. Migraines are still very misunderstood, but perhaps the number one thing that most migraine sufferers wished that other people knew was that a migraine is much more than just a bad headache. A migraine is a disorder of the nerves and blood vessels in the head that can cause a myriad of symptoms that occur during the course of an episode, which can last for up to 72 hours.
Migraine sufferers live with a host of symptoms, including but certainly not limited to a severe, throbbing headache. Other symptoms that occur as a migraine attack unfolds may include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, smells, and touch
- Vision changes (aura): blurred vision, flashing lights, seeing spots, wavy lines, or even temporary loss of vision
- Numbness or tingling of the face and extremities
- Cognitive changes: difficulty speaking, inability to find words, confusion
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Frequent yawning
- Vertigo, dizziness, or feeling faint
Reading down this list, it becomes clear that a migraine is more than simply a bad headache and that migraine sufferers must endure a combination of symptoms that can interrupt the ability to function normally and perform even the most basic of tasks when an episode is in full swing.
Migraine Facts: What You May Not Know
Migraine is the 3rd most common health condition worldwide
You’d be hard pressed to meet someone who doesn’t know a single person who suffers from migraines or experiences them themselves. Globally, one out of every seven people is affected by migraines. In the United States, 39 million people live with this debilitating condition.
Women are affected more than men
75% of migraines sufferers around the world are women. What is believed to account for this big gender discrepancy is the cyclical nature of hormone production in females, particularly estrogen levels. This can help to explain why women will commonly experience migraine episodes around the same time in their menstrual cycle each month and why, during pregnancy, migraines tend to go into remission. Along the same lines, because women do suffer more than men, migraines often go undiagnosed or underdiagnosed in men.
Children get migraines too
Migraines are more common in kids than you may think. An estimated 10% of school-aged children suffer from migraines, and episodes have been reported in kids as young as 18 months of age. By the time kids turn 17, 23% of girls and 8% of boys reported experiencing a migraine.
Migraines can be hereditary
A child who has one parent who has migraines has a 50/50 chance of also having them. If both parents have migraines, the odds increase to 75%. Between 80% and 90% of migraine sufferers report having at least one other family member with the condition.
Migraine treatment costs are a huge burden
The healthcare costs associated with the care of migraines is an estimated $36 billion per year in the United States alone. Migraine sufferers often end up having to take off from work, not to mention the cost of different doctor visits, medications, and other treatment options and services.
Depression and migraines are linked
The risk of suffering from depression is high in those who have migraines. Up to 40% of migraine sufferers in the U.S. also have depression as well as a higher risk of other mental health issues like anxiety, panic disorder, and bipolar disorder. When you live with a debilitating condition like migraines, it can cause a lot of anguish not knowing when the next attack might occur. Serotonin levels in the brain can also be related to the connection between migraine, depression, and other mental health conditions.
Triggers can vary a lot
Migraine sufferers report a wide variety of things that can trigger an attack. Some of these triggers can be tracked and avoided, while others must simply be managed to the best of a person’s ability. Common migraine triggers include:
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Weather changes, such as excessive heat, cold, thunderstorms, and fluctuations in barometric pressure
- Hormonal changes
- Medication overuse
- Cured meats and cheeses
- Red wine
- Bright lights
Migraines and Your Neck
Looking at the neck is key when it comes to finding lasting migraine relief. It is no coincidence that many migraine sufferers report neck pain as part and parcel of their episodes and that migraines often arise for the first time or worsen after an injury to the neck or head. Your head is supported by a vertebra called the atlas, or C1. The atlas has a unique design because it has a unique job – to support the weight of the head and provide for its broad range of movements. However, because the atlas is so freely movable, it can also be vulnerable to misaligning as a result of an accident, injury, or wear and tear that occurs over time. A misalignment in this critical area can contribute to the development of migraines by altering blood flow between the head and neck, impeding the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, and impairing normal brainstem function.
Upper cervical chiropractic care is perfectly positioned to provide a solution for this underlying cause of headaches and migraines. At Trillium Spinal Care, we use state of the art technology combined with precise, gentle adjusting techniques in order to find and correct misalignments of the atlas. Upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are designed for each patient in order to maximize the results we can achieve. The longer you are able to maintain your atlas correction, the better your body can heal and return to normal function. This has given our migraine patients the time their body needs to heal and the ability to return to a better quality of life. To learn more, visit our website at www.trilliumspinalcare.com.