New thinking about the possible causes of migraines has led to possible novel treatments for patients suffering from severe headaches.
Most people have headaches now and again, but for those people who experience chronic headaches or migraines, the pain can often be unbearable and dramatically affect their quality of life. It’s thought that as many as 18% of women and 6% of men in the US are living with chronic headaches.
However, scientists now think there may be a new trigger for headaches – atmospheric pressure (also called barometric pressure). Essentially, this refers to the amount of air pressure in an area at a specific point in time. When the weather suddenly deteriorates, there is a huge drop in air pressure.
A recent study showed that 75% of people who suffer migraines, found that they happened when there was a change in barometric pressure. Scientists have already documented other triggers for migraines such as alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate, and patients can alter their lifestyle to avoid these substances, but how easy is it to avoid changes in the weather?
While it might be impossible to avoid changes in air pressure, focusing on a person’s atlas bone (or c1 vertebra) can reduce migraine symptoms, and that’s how we address the issue here at Providence Chiropractic.
Our response to drops in air pressure and all our involuntary actions are controlled by our central nervous system, which is, in turn, controlled by our brainstem, located at the bottom of the brain and skull.
The atlas bone circles the brainstem from the base of the skull through into the spine and central nervous system. When air pressure falls, it often triggers areas associated with chronic headaches in the brainstem.
If this bone moves out of place, it can also impact the spinal cord and vascular in the head and neck. When the C1 vertebra is realigned, the brainstem once again can work properly. Research has shown that migraine sufferers have experienced relief in symptoms with just one upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.
The Migraine Relief Center. Humidity and Migraines: What You Should Know. http://blog.themigrainereliefcenter.com/humidity-and-migraines-what-you-should-know (accessed 14 August 2015).
Elster EL. Upper cervical chiropractic care for a patient with chronic migraine headaches with an appendix summarizing an additional 100 headache cases. J Vert Sublux Res 2003;AUG(3):1-10.
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