According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 29.5 million Americans have Migraines. Symptoms of a Migraine include:
- Moderate to severe pain on one or both sides of the head.
- Pulsating or throbbing pain.
- Pain that is worse with activity.
- Nausea with or without vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light and sound.
I can help.
Many people who present to my office have a history of chronic headaches. While a headache may sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious condition, most types of headaches that I see are either a tension headache, migraine, or a combination of both.
Commonly, the migraine patients I see work in a stressful work environment, stooped over a computer all day. Usually, they have a head forward posture (what I call “computer neck”), which results in structural instability of the cervical
spine. This directly impacts the tension of the muscles in the neck and shoulders, contributing to the headaches.
Acupuncture has been studied as a treatment for migraine headaches for over 20 years. This procedure involves placing a few fine, painless needles in specific spots that greatly eases the tension in the neck and shoulders, and allows the headache to seemingly “melt away”. Relief is obtained in as little as 10 minutes.
As in the “computer neck” posture mentioned above, Chiropractic improves the structural integrity of the cervical spine by retraining the weight of the head (8-10 pounds) to be carried by the cervical spine instead of being held back by the neck and shoulder muscles. (For every inch forward the head is displaced, 10 pounds of force is applied to the posterior neck and shoulders!). Additionally, a misalignment of the vertebrae, or subluxation, can irritate the nerves that travel the length of the spine to the brain. This misalignment produces pro-inflammatory substances in an effort to repair the injured tissues, making a person more prone to chemical imbalances in the brain. There are several clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy of Chiropractic in the treatment of Migraine headaches.
An imbalance of female hormones is another factor believed to be related to migraine headaches. Indeed, I see a pattern with the onset of migraines and the menstrual cycle. Fluctuations in the hormones can be helped with acupuncture as well as certain herbal therapies.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
The following foods may trigger migraine headaches:
- Chocolate (ohh, nooo!)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG), an excitotoxin used as a flavor enhancer to fool the brain into wanting more.
- Peanut butter
- Dairy products
- Meats containing nitrates, such as bacon hot dogs and other embalmed mystery meats.
- Fermented or pickled foods.
- 5-HTP --Your body makes this amino acid and converts it into serotonin, an important brain chemical. Researchers think abnormal serotonin function in blood vessels may be related to migraines, and some of the drugs used to treat migraines work by affecting serotonin function.
- Magnesium—People with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium that those who don’t have migraines. Some studies indicate that magnesium supplementation can help women whose migraines are triggered by their menses.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)—A few studies indicate that riboflavin may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Symptoms of migraine headaches can often be severe enough to disable the person from daily activities. Treatment and management of migraine headaches can be a little more complicated than that of tension headaches. A treatment regime individualized to the particular patient provides for the greatest success of a favorable outcome.
In my practice, I perform both Chiropractic and Acupuncture, and have found the combination to be a great relief to my migraine patients.
--Dr. Max Norris DC, Dipl. AC.