10% of GP and 7% of osteopathic appointments in the UK are for head and face pain. The majority of these will be migraine related headaches, and whether they are diagnosed as such will depend on the knowledge of the practitioner involved in the creation of that diagnosis.
Migraines are a complex neurological disease involving nerve pathways and chemicals, that is majorly influenced by genetic predisposition and environment. The neurological symptoms experienced can be completely debilitating and do not always present as a headache. Many specialists feel migraine is a result of a hyper sensitive nervous system, that reacts when over stimulated.
Stages of migraine
This stage can begin hours or even days before the onset of pain and can include mood change, irritability, yawning, neck pain and craving of certain foods. Because they occur directly before migraine pain people usually consider them to be triggers, which in fact is not the case.
This usually occurs up to an hour before pain and most commonly presents as visual disturbance, but can also experience numbness, increase odour sensitivity, dizziness, difficulty with speech and memory loss. When this happens, especially the first time, it can be frightening, as these same symptoms are also associated with stroke which requires urgent medical treatment.
The head pain
Those that experience pain during a migraine usually have a pounding headache that can appear on one or both sides of the head. It is commonly accompanied by nausea and light sensitivity. Facial pain is another common symptom and man patients migraines are treated as sinus issues for many years before discovering it is actually migraine. Some people do not feel any pain during their migraines, which makes diagnosis particularly difficult.
The after effects of a migraine can last for several days and include dull head pain on movement, coughing or sneezing, difficulty forming words and thoughts. But can have no other particular symptoms other than generally not feeling well.
Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms without a proper diagnosis, should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Controlling your migraines
Its is very rare that one thing can trigger a migraine. The key to controlling migraine are to not over stimulate the nervous system and keep to a routine as much as possible. Use these tips to help you gain control.
Get enough sleep. Go to bed at regular times and keep stress to a minimum.
Eat regularly and do not fast. Unstable blood sugars can also be a trigger for migraine attack, so ensure you eat at regular times, drink plenty of water and look into consumption of less inflammatory foods, such as sugars.
Supplement your diet. Most people that experience migraines are deficient in magnesium, so taking a regular supplement can also help. Other supplements that may help are vitamin riboflavin and co-enzyme Q10.
Have regular manual therapy. Neck pain can be a prodromal stage symptom, but also be a
trigger. Having regular treatment to address restrictions and muscular tension can help to reduce migraine occurrence.
Relax. Use mindfulness and meditation techniques to lower stress levels. If you need some guidance on how to do this click here.
Controlling migraine will always need a multifaceted approach delivered by multi disciplinary teams. The level of involvement required will very much depend on the complexity and severity of the patients condition.
The national migraine centre are the only charity in the UK that offer treatment and support for migraine sufferers without the need for GP referral.
If you suffer with headaches you can book a specialist headache consultation at Align Osteopathy.
Gayle Jordan is a osteopath with a special interest in headaches and migraines. She treats patients of all ages from her clinic room located in Anytime Fitness Totton.
Gayle has suffered with migraines and headaches since her teenage years and is an advocate for migraine warriors.