Migraines: What Causes This Debilitating Condition?
Migraines are a neurological condition affecting as many as 1 billion people worldwide. Men, women, and children can all be affected. Here are some interesting facts about migraines:
- Migraines are most common between the ages of 25 and 55
- Migraines run in families, and as many as 90 percent of sufferers have family members with migraines
- They are the third most prevalent illness in the world
- They are the sixth most disabling illness worldwide
- More than 90 percent of those with migraines cannot work or function normally during an attack.
- Most migraines affect people one or two days a month, while close to 4 million people have chronic daily migraines, meaning they have 15 or more migraines a month
- Women are affected three times more often than men
- About 1 out of every 4 women will have a migraine in her lifetime
- As many as 10 percent of school-age children suffer from migraines
- Half of all migraine sufferers have their first attack before the age of 12
- Migraines have been seen in children as young as age 18 months
- Colic is linked to migraines and may even be a form of a migraine
Symptoms of Migraines
Migraines are neurological in nature. The symptoms of migraines are extremely incapacitating:
- Severe throbbing and pounding head pain
- Often only one side of the head is impacted, but in a third of cases, both sides are affected
- Attacks last between 4 and 72 hours
- Visual disturbances — blind spots, seeing shapes or zig zag lines
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and certain odors
- Tingling and numbness in the face or the arms and legs
These symptoms vary from person to person and sometimes from one attack to another.
What Causes Migraines?
There are a number of theories that address where migraines stem from. We will discuss a few of them here and then discuss an all-natural solution.
Vascular problems: A study published in Nature Genetics promotes the idea that migraines may be due to a problem with the blood supply system. This stems from the results of this study and the fact that migraines are closely associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. The results of this study confirmed that vascular dysfunction and smooth muscle dysfunction play a major role in migraines.
Genetics: Having a family member with migraines greatly increases your risk of developing them yourself. A study confirms this finding by discovering 5 sections of genetic code linked to migraines. This makes 12 in total (the last five being newly found). Eight of these sections are near the genes helping control the circuitry of the brain. Two were connected to the genes helping to keep brain tissue healthy. Researchers were encouraged as they feel they may now be able to further the study, helping find out why some people get migraines while others do not.
Additionally, a population-based study found first degree relatives of those who have migraines without aura had a greater risk of developing the conditions themselves. Those without relatives suffering from migraines had no increased risk of either migraine type.
Chemical imbalances: It seems as if the same chemical imbalances that cause depression and anxiety may be to blame for migraines as well. A study confirmed that regardless of any other factors, people with migraines also experience anxiety and depression more often. It is not so much that one causes the other, but rather, migraines seem to influence depression and anxiety. Authors of the study are theorizing that caring properly for migraines may also help reduce anxiety and depression. They hypothesize that serotonin — a chemical made by the nervous system — is less active when a person has a number of migraines. Diminished serotonin lowers the pain threshold and makes you more sensitive to pain, producing more migraines, increasing anxiety, and adding to depression.
Central nervous system issues: The nervous system is a complicated, highly specialized system that organizes and directs interactions between you and your environment. The nervous system is responsible for the senses, voluntary and involuntary functions, and your ability to think and reason. If you have a problem with your nervous system, the symptoms that will show up depend on which part of it is involved. When we are talking about migraines, this can be linked to the above-mentioned problem with serotonin. If serotonin levels are out of control, the nervous system cannot do its job properly. This can lead to migraines.
Finding Help for the Pain of Migraines
No matter the underlying cause of migraines, there is proof that upper cervical chiropractic care can be effective in helping to reduce or eliminate them. The bones of the neck are located in the same area as the brainstem, part of the central nervous system. The C1 and C2 vertebrae were created to be a protection for the brainstem. However, if they have become misaligned — which very easily can happen — they can actually put the brainstem under stress and cause it to send faulty signals to the brain. This can be the reason for some of the causes of migraines, plus additional health conditions we have not explored in this article. Either way, the solution can be the same.
Here at Providence Chiropractic in Edmonton, Alberta, we use a method that does not add any further stress on the spine and neck. It is gentle and is based on scientific measurements that help us to pinpoint where your exact problem is located. We employ this low-impact method to encourage the bones to move back into place naturally. Once corrected, many patients see a decrease in the frequency and severity of migraines, while others see them go away entirely.