Although migraines affect a considerable number of people, the causes are not entirely understood.
Changes in chemical balances within the body and changes in the function of the nervous systems or blood in particular areas of the brain have been linked to the cause of migraine attacks.
So, it is interesting that chiropractic care has been shown to be effective for those who suffer from migraines.
Migraines are usually divided into two categories, although many more subdivisions exist. These are referred to as ‘common’ and ‘classic’ migraine.
The discomfort of the headache is usually one sided covering half of the forehead and one eye. However, pain can also spread from the back of the head to the eye or in some cases be experienced in both eyes. Sensations described include stabbing, pulsing, and throbbing pains.
This is the most common type of migraine, accounting for 80-85% of attacks. Research demonstrates that a shift in cerebral blood flow could be responsible for the symptoms experienced with this kind of headache.
It usually involves:
- A one-sided pulsing headache
- Commencement in young adulthood, more commonly in females
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe aching, although sufferers can carry on with their daily activities
This type of a migraine accounts for about 10-15% of attacks. The typical throbbing unilateral headache experienced in a common migraine is present but is preceded by what is known as ‘prodrome’ or ‘aura.’ This refers to symptoms experienced before the onset of the throbbing headache such as:
- Scintillation – visual symptoms such as flashing lights
- Scotoma – the presence of a blind spot
This usually lasts up to 30 minutes, after which it is replaced by a debilitating headache that can last from a few hours to several days.
Other considerations to keep in mind are:
- Try to rest in a dark, cool, and quiet room has been reported to be the only relieving factor
- Nausea and vomiting may occur
- Photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights) is common and can exacerbate pain
Again, the cause of these headaches is not entirely understood, but are thought to be related to the way in which nerves send signals, changes in blood flow, and the presence of certain chemicals.