16 September 2020
A migraine can be debilitating but also very varied, or mistaken for another headache. Symptoms may include:
- A throbbing headache on one side
- Nausea or vomiting
- Visual aura
- Numbness or pins and needles in the arm or face
It is important to note that an aura is not a necessary symptom to diagnose a migraine: only about 20% of people who suffer from migraines report having an aura. When there is an aura, it normally precedes the headache symptoms by about an hour. Some people find that they can prevent the development at this point with medication or by laying in a dark room.
Causes of Migraine
Like other headaches, there is some uncertainty surrounding the science behind migraines. Two main theories are the vascular theory and the nervous theory. The vascular theory is that localised restriction of blood vessels leads to a sudden dilation, causing sudden pressure and pain. The nervous theory is that there is some kind of disruption to the autonomic nervous system: the part that you cannot control voluntarily.
There is likely a hormonal link. Incidence is much higher in women than men, and a lot of female migraine patients notice a pattern with their monthly cycle. Some women develop migraines at puberty or menopause, and others report resolution of their symptoms around menopause.
There also appear to be links with:
- Sleeping too much or not enough
Some migraine sufferers find that osteopathy can help prevent their episodes, whether that means episodes are easier to manage or less frequent. For some people this is even more effective than management with medication. Osteopaths work with nerves and blood vessels in managing a number of conditions and migraines are no exception. Vessels and nerves run around muscles and joints in the neck and shoulders, so working around the whole upper body can provide relief to some migraine patients. It is also worth noting that tightness through the muscles and joints in these areas can be a response to migraine symptoms as well as a potential cause. Treatment and exercises at home may be beneficial in breaking the migraine cycle.
Migraines are very varied, and what works for one person may not work for another. Keeping a diary can be a good way of working out what works for you in terms of management and spotting patterns in potential triggers. This could include certain foods and drinks, stressful days, getting too hot or cold, or becoming dehydrated.
For migraine patients who feel unsupported, working with an osteopath can also be a great way to find out information on things that have helped other patients. It can also be surprisingly helpful to have someone who simply has the time to listen to your symptoms!
We treat a lot of patients with neck and upper body problems at Ilminster Osteopathy, book in to see how we can help you too