Migraine is a chronic condition involving the presence of moderate to severe headaches associated with nausea. Migraine pain was believed to be neurologic in nature, but there is insufficient evidence to support this. Migraine headaches are more common in women than in men, with three times higher incidences in women.
The cause of migraine is attributed to the presence of certain triggers that lead to the affectation of the neurovascular system in the head. This in turn stimulates the production of inflammatory mediators especially on the trigeminal nerves. Certain triggers may include stress, fatigue, hunger, poor indoor and outdoor air quality, monosodium glutamate (although there is poor evidence on this), menstruation, use of oral contraceptives, menarche, pregnancy, and menopause. Other trigger may also be present as specific to a particular person.
Symptoms of Migraine
Migraine headaches usually manifest symptoms such as:
- Unilateral and pulsating headache
- Lasts for more than two hours to at most 72 hours
- Aggravated by movement
- With associated symptoms such as phonophobia, photophobia, nausea and vomiting
- There may also be light-headedness, feeling of fainting and vertigo
The duration, severity and the frequency of migraine attacks are usually variable among people.
Aside from these common symptoms, migraine headaches are also attributed to the presence of various stages involving migraine; however some patients may not experience all of these stages. These include:
Prodromal symptoms occur several hours or days before the actual onset of the migraine headache. This stage usually is present in 40 to 60% of patients suffering from migraines. Prodromal symptoms may include:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Food cravings
Because of these prodromal symptoms, patients who suffered migraine several times already may already detect that a migraine attack may happen again.
Up to 15% of patients suffering from migraine experience aura. An aura is a neurological phenomenon that may occur just before or during the migraine attack. An aura may occur for at most 60 minutes. Auras may involve visual or cheiro-oral paresthesias. The most common type of aura is visual aura in which the person experiences disturbances in vision. Visual auras may involve flashes of lights, dazzling zigzag lines, blurred vision, tunnel vision or absence of vision in one side of the eye.
- Pain Phase
This phase actually involves the migraine headache. This phase may occur along with the aura or after the aura. The characteristics of migraine headache were discussed earlier.
This is the last phase of migraine headache, wherein the person experiences the effects of migraine after some hours or days after the headache is gone. Postdrome symptoms may include soreness, impaired thinking, tiredness, gastrointestinal symptoms, weakness and mood changes.
Treatments for Migraine Headache
Treatments for migraine headache may involve pharmacologic interventions, surgery, and alternative therapies.
Patients are usually given with analgesics for headache and antiemetics for nausea, dizziness or vertigo. Analgesics may involve centrally acting analgesics such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other medications for headache may include triptans, ergotamines, narcotic analgesics and corticosteroids. Medications for headache should be taken with caution because overuse may lead to medication overuse headache, which involves more painful and more frequent migraine experiences. Other alternative medications may involve propanolol, a beta blocker and topimarate.
Surgery may also be involved in cases where the patient does not respond to medications. Surgery may involve nerve decompression in the neck and head area.
Alternative therapies for migraine may include acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, massage and physiotherapy. Chiropractic care is especially done in order to relieve spinal subluxations, which may affect the nerve transmission to the brain that may contribute to neurovascular compromise in migraine. Some patients find relief from migraine and lesser recurrences after chiropractic manipulation like that offered by your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor.