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Migraine

migraineA migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or pulsing in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.

Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms (aura), such as flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg.
Migraine headaches often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. Migraines may progress through four stages — prodrome, aura, attack and postdrome — though you may not experience all the stages.

Prodrome
One or two days before a migraine, you may notice subtle changes that may signify an oncoming migraine, including:

Constipation
Depression
Diarrhea
Food cravings
Hyperactivity
Irritability
Neck stiffness (see causes below)

Aura
Most people experience migraine headaches without aura. Auras are usually visual but can also be sensory, motor or verbal disturbances. Each of these symptoms typically begins gradually, builds up over several minutes, then commonly lasts for 10 to 30 minutes. Examples of aura include:

Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
Vision loss
Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
Speech or language problems

Attack
When untreated, a migraine typically lasts from four to 72 hours, but the frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. You may have migraines several times a month or much less frequently. During a migraine, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

Pain on one side of your head
Pain that has a pulsating, throbbing quality
Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells
Nausea and vomiting
Blurred vision
Diarrhea
Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting

Postdrome
The final phase — known as postdrome — occurs after a migraine attack, when you may feel drained and washed out, though some people report feeling mildly euphoric.

See your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have any of the following signs and symptoms, which may indicate other, more serious medical problems:

An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
Headache with fever, stiff neck, rash, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
New headache pain if you’re older than 50

Although much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, genetics and environmental factors seem to both play a role.

Causes

1. Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin — which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved.
Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks. This may trigger your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.

2. Migraines may be caused by changes in the alignment of the vertebra in the neck.  Misalignments, especially in the upper part of the neck, cause an irritation of the spinal nerves and disruptions of the normal blood flow to the base of the brain and brain stem.

Migraine headache triggers
Whatever the exact mechanism of the headaches, a number of things may trigger them. Common migraine triggers include:

Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen. Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal medications — such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy — also may worsen migraines, though some women find it’s beneficial to take them.

Foods. Some migraines appear to be triggered by certain foods. Common offenders include alcohol, especially beer and red wine; aged cheeses; chocolate; aspartame; overuse of caffeine; monosodium glutamate — a key ingredient in some Asian foods; salty foods; and processed foods. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger migraine attacks.

Stress. Stress at work or home can instigate migraines.
Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including pleasant scents, such as perfume, and unpleasant odors, such as paint thinner and secondhand smoke — can also trigger migraines.

Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Either missing sleep or getting too much sleep may serve as a trigger for migraines in some individuals, as can jet lag.

Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.

Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.

Medications. Certain medications can aggravate migraines, especially oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin.

Treatment
Migraines originating in the upper part of the neck are generally treated by Chiropractic adjustments. This is done by gently moving the bones in the neck back into their normal position. This is done in the office by me, Dr. Steven Pierce. I’m a Jacksonville,Texas, Chiropractor. I have been treating people with migraines since 1989. Through gentle adjustments to the neck and spine, we work to restore not only the alignment but the help restore the proper motion in the joints.  Call the office today for an appointment.  We are here to help.
+Steven Pierce

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