ISOMATIC Integrative Health Centre

Scarborough

Migraine

Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent and severe headaches, often accompanied by other symptoms. These headaches are usually throbbing or pulsating in nature and are typically limited to one side of the head. Migraines can cause significant pain and discomfort, making it challenging for individuals to carry out their daily activities. Here’s an overview of migraines:

Key Characteristics of Migraines:

  1. Headache: Migraine headaches are typically moderate to severe in intensity. They often occur on one side of the head and can last from a few hours to several days.

  2. Throbbing Pain: Migraine pain is often described as throbbing or pulsating. This sensation can be aggravated by physical activity.

  3. Other Symptoms: Migraines are more than just headaches. They often come with other symptoms, which can vary from person to person. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia).

  4. Aurora: Some individuals experience specific symptoms called an “aura” before a migraine headache begins. Auras can include visual disturbances like flashes of light, blind spots, or zigzag lines. Not everyone with migraines experiences an aura.

Common Phases of a Migraine:

Migraines are often divided into different phases:

  1. Prodrome: This phase can occur a day or two before the headache and includes subtle changes like mood swings, food cravings, and increased thirst.

  2. Aura: If an aura occurs, it typically happens just before or during the headache phase. Auras are temporary and often involve visual disturbances, but can also affect other senses.

  3. Headache: This is the main phase characterized by severe head pain, often on one side, along with other symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

  4. Postdrome: After the headache phase, individuals may experience a postdrome phase. This phase can leave people feeling drained, confused, and moody.

Causes and Triggers:

The exact cause of migraines is not fully understood, but they are believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Migraines can be triggered by various factors, including:

  • Hormonal changes in women (such as during menstruation).
  • Certain foods and drinks (like aged cheese, alcohol, and caffeine).
  • Stress and changes in stress levels.
  • Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns.
  • Sensory stimuli like bright lights, strong smells, or loud noises.
  • Environmental changes or weather-related factors.
  • Medications or medication overuse.

Migraine Treatment:

Treatment for migraines can involve:

  1. Lifestyle Modifications: Identifying and avoiding triggers can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Maintaining regular sleep patterns, managing stress, and staying hydrated are essential.

  2. Medications: There are various medications available to manage migraines. These include pain relievers for mild migraines, triptans for moderate to severe migraines, and preventive medications for those with frequent and severe migraines.

  3. Osteopathic Treatment: Some individuals find relief from migraines through osteopathic care. Osteopaths can use techniques like cranial osteopathy and myofascial release to address musculoskeletal factors that may contribute to migraines.

  4. Alternative Therapies: Complementary therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques can also be effective in managing migraines.

Migraines can be a debilitating condition, but with proper management and care, individuals can often find relief and improve their quality of life. If you experience frequent or severe migraines, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to develop a suitable treatment plan.

Scarborough in Toronto

Andrew Chan, R.H.N., DOMP, B.Sc., DO (Euro)

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