Can Chiropractors Help Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:20 am -

 

When most of us think of migraine headaches, we tend to think of how we can find relief and where we can find it.  We usually think of doctors, urgent care and even the emergency room for relief, depending upon how bad the headache is and whether the migraine starts at 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning.

For those of us who are used to going to a chiropractor for treatment, sometimes we think about going to see our chiropractor for help.  There are others who go to the chiropractor for other things but are unsure as to whether or not a chiropractor can bring relief for migraine headaches.

Many people feel that a good and experienced chiropractor can provide relief.  With millions of migraine sufferers trying to deal with triggers and other issues that cause their migraines. 

The upper part of your neck and cervical spine is located at the brain stem and is full of nerves that can send pain signals to anywhere in the head.  Many individuals that suffer from headaches –especially migraines – note that they very often experience pain that begins at the base of the brain and progresses up the neck and the back of the head and over to the front or side of the head, and if you’ve suffered a migraine, you know the rest.

There are many stories of individuals who combat migraines on a long-term basis.  They either experience them regularly every week or month or maybe a bit less often, or they experience a migraine that continues for days or even weeks or more.  Many of these individuals have sought out conservative chiropractic services and found relief.  Chiropractors can gently manipulate the bones, offer heat or cold treatments and massage, often eliminating migraine pain.

If you are suffering from migraines and have tried numerous remedies that have not worked, you can try a chiropractor and see if things work out well.  Many migraine sufferers have gone to a chiropractor as a last resort and found lasting relief.


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What Should I Ask About My Headaches?

Written by AnaLise on October 23, 2008 – 3:49 pm -

 

Some of us suffer from terrible headaches and have a million questions, but we don’t know if they are the right questions.  Often, we try to just muddle through.

Twenty years ago, there were few choices when battling migraines.  In fact, we weren’t sure what actual migraines were because there was little or no information available describing symptoms, triggers and treatment. 

Today, there is much more information available, and it is much easier to find.  There are organizations dedicated to research on migraines and other headaches.  There are physicians who are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches, particularly migraines.  There is information on the internet, at the library, at many health centers, clinics, hospitals and health departments.  There are homeopathic treatments, relaxation, biofeedback and other holistic treatments, as well as traditional medical treatment and combinations of various treatments. 

So, with all of this information abounding and with places to go and ways to get diagnosis and treatment, what are the most important issues to address and what questions do you need to consider in advance and discuss with your doctor?  There are a number of simple, straightforward questions that can help with your headaches and help determine if they are truly migraines.

It is important to try to keep track of your headache triggers.  What were you doing prior to the headache coming on?  What did you eat or drink in the few hours previous?  Were you under stress or dealing with a problem?  It would be good to keep track of this information in a headache diary.  If you ask yourself these questions and answer them in your diary, the information will be helpful to your doctor. 

Another consideration is to determine if any medicine you take can cause migraines or make them worse?  For instance, birth control pills and other medications can be problematic.  Asking yourself and your doctor the question regarding medication is important – for all medicine, whether prescription or over the counter.  It is possible that a simple change of medication can bring relief.

Another question to ask is what kind of treatment might work.  Is there a possibility that hypnosis, biofeedback or over the counter medicine – including herbs, vitamins and minerals – could help ease or eliminate the migraines?  If not, are there prescription medications that can help me by preventing migraines or by at least stopping them once I feel them coming on?  What are the side-effects and how can I make them as minimal as possible? 

Do I need to make changes in my life, and will the migraines possibly disappear with time?

These simple questions will give you and your doctor good, specific information that could save you both time and frustration, and keep you feeling better and out of pain from migraine and other headaches.


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New Headache Reliever Treatment Band

Written by AnaLise on October 23, 2008 – 3:42 pm -

If you have ever suffered a migraine headache, you know that you would probably try almost anything – even a hammer – to make it stop.  I have had some whopper migraines in my day.  The ones where you end up at the ER at midnight on Saturday after trying to do everything to avoid it.  Medication.  Dark room.  Shhhh! Quiet.  Coke or Pepsi.  Mountain Dew if it’s really bad.  Feverfew.  Aromatherapy.  And by midnight, you are in the ER willing to let the doctor do anything or give you anything – even poison – to just simply make the pain stop.

There is a new treatment on the market now and it’s called The Headache Reliever.  The Headache Reliever was created by Dr. Stephen Landy of Memphis, TN and Brand Griffin of Huntsville, AL.  Dr. Landy, who is a board-certified neurologist and Clinical Professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine, invented the The Headache Reliever after seeing many patients with headaches use pain medication, but then having to supplement the medication with other home remedies.  One of the remedies that he saw over and over was that people would use heat wraps and cold wraps to help relax the muscles and/or numb the pain. 

The Headache Reliever has been clinically proven to help relieve migraines without drugs by using a pressure band that helps compress blood vessels, reusable, microwavable hot packs to relax muscles and reusable freezer packs that constrict blood vessels.  Since all three of these are issues in most migraines, it is logical that one device is able to address all three.  To date, there are hot packs, cold packs and other aids; however none of them are packaged together – especially with a pressure band for compression. 

The company that Dr. Landy and Brand Griffin, who is a spaceship designer by profession, have founded to create and market The Headache Reliever is AbsolutelyNew, Inc., and is headquartered in San Francisco.  They will release The Headache Reliever for sale early in 2009.

As a migraine sufferer, I look forward to a drug-free, non ER method of migraine relief, and it seems logical that The Headache Reliever will be a huge tool to keep migraines at bay or eliminate them once they have started.  Hooray!


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Heart Condition Causes High Percentage of Migraines

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 4:00 pm -

As researchers have looked for more clues about the causes of migraine headaches, they have found much information that has moved treatment forward, helping thousands of sufferers of this debilitating condition to feel better.

There are also many medications, natural remedies and other treatments for migraines that have become tested and available, especially during the past few years.  Migraines are not a “one size fits all” situation.  Symptoms may be similar – or even the same – for many sufferers, but treatment of those symptoms varies from individual to individual.

The latest research about migraines has found that about 66% of migraine sufferers have a condition called PFO which is a hole in the heart or a right to left shunt.  What this means is that blood flow which would normally be filtered through the lungs actually bypasses them, most likely contributing significantly to migraine headache pain.

About 25% of the overall population has PFO’s, but not all of them are affected and not all of them have migraine headaches.  The research, performed by Dr. Stephen Silberstein at Jefferson Headache Center at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, shows, however, that though it has been thought that this link existed between PFO and migraines for some time now, but this definitive study gives a clear connection.

As a result of the study, Dr. Silberstein feels that the strong connection between PFO/RFL’s and chronic migraine is a definite possibility.  He has stated that if the next phase of study confirms this fact even further, there will be a straightforward way to help those individuals whose migraines are connected to this problem.  The fairly simple way to stop the chronic migraine pain would be to close PFO defects.

This may be a positive answer to the problems for more migraine sufferers who have been asking questions and seeking relief for too long.


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New Clues for Migraine Sufferers

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 3:58 pm -

The common conception regarding migraine headaches is that people know their migraine is coming on during the aura – sometimes a few minutes or a few hours before the migraine itself actually hits.  Usually during the aura a person will have visual disturbances such as seeing flashes of light, seeing spots and other odd visual issues.  In addition during aura, a person will often feel nauseated and possibly light headed.  If medication or other remedies or relief steps are taken during the aura – especially as close to the beginning as possible – there is a higher possibility that the migraine will never fully develop and the symptoms will subside.

Researchers have now found that it is often possible to receive and recognize clues about migraines 24 to 36 hours in advance or more.  This period, called the prodome, includes symptoms including a warped sense of smell or taste.  Dr. Allen Bernstein, a neurologist in Northern California, says that it is “like a truck coming down the road.  If you hit the brakes fast enough, you can stop it.”

Bernstein’s research has shown that some people start to throw food out, feeling that it smells bad.  Others have gone on a cleaning binge thinking that everything smells like mold.  When tracking how long before the migraine this happened, it was usually within the 24 to 36 hour window before the migraine headache appeared. 

Dr. Bernstein has presented his findings to the American Headache Society and the International Neuropsychological Society.  He usually treats individuals whose migraines disrupt their lives to the degree that they have to miss work repeatedly, miss plane flights due to nausea and vomiting from the headache, and other serious migraine issues.  He says that the hardest thing in diagnosing and treating individuals is to help them look backward 24 to 36 hours and remember what was happening that could be a clue for the future migraines they might experience. 

Dr. Bernstein feels that though a lot of progress has been made in the treatment of migraines, the ability to help individuals see the onset of the migraine 24 hours in advance and use the medication or other remedy at that time will often eliminate the migraine altogether.  He says that his goal is to “teach people to be their own best observer.”


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Migraines Can Affect Anyone

Written by AnaLise on October 16, 2008 – 3:55 pm -

 

If you suffer from migraines, even on a day that’s not your worst; a migraine can be totally unbearable.  It’s not just the headache itself – that’s bad enough – it’s the plethora of symptoms that accompany a migraine and the debilitating extent to which they basically disable you.

The aura that comes with many people’s migraines involves visual disturbances such as flashes of light and spots before your eyes, nausea, lightheadedness and more.  Then, there’s the headache itself – usually more painful on one side of the head than the other – which causes a person the need to lie down in a dark, quiet room without disturbance for however long as necessary.

Those who have ever had migraines know exactly what we are talking about.  Those who have not had migraines – hopefully you will not experience them. 

Migraines can get to anyone.  If you are a schoolteacher or a roofer it doesn’t matter – migraines can keep you from being able to work.  No matter what your occupation is, it is impossible for most people with migraines to be able to work during a bad one.  If you think you can, imagine a migraine on a rooftop if you are a roofer.  Not a good recipe. 

Lately there have been stories in the news about celebrities and others who have had migraines interrupt their work.  Janet Jackson, who has suffered from headaches since she was a small child, has had to cancel several concerts on her current tour lately.  They couldn’t figure out what the problem was, but she kept getting symptoms of vertigo plus severe headaches.  I can’t imagine jumping around a stage, bright lights, dancing, singing, fans screaming with vertigo and a migraine.  The doctors determined that she has a rare form of migraines that cause the vertigo.  She is now undergoing treatment which is successful so far.

A pastor in Bellingham, Washington just had to quit his job after 11 years because his migraines were too overwhelming for him to adequately do his work.  Children – especially teens – are fighting symptoms of migraines which often keep them from doing their school work.  It used to be thought that kids don’t get migraines, but research has proven that this is not true.  Kids and teens do get migraines.

There are more treatments now than ever before.  If you suffer from migraines, talk to your doctor about treatment.  If you are not satisfied, get a referral to a neurologist who specializes in migraine treatment.  You do not have to suffer alone, and you may not have to suffer at all.


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Inventor Creates New Migraine Tool

Written by AnaLise on October 9, 2008 – 3:21 pm -

There have been thousands of ideas about how to stop migraine headaches – or at least make them bearable.  Some of these ideas work and some, of course, don’t work.  Sometimes, even the most outlandish of the ideas has the ability to help relieve the suffering from migraines.

There is a new tool being tested that seems to have the ability to actually stop a migraine headache before it completely starts.  Many migraine headaches start with what is called “aura” which is when a person feels light headed, sees spots or other visual disturbances.  This is what happened to Dr. Robert Fischell, who is also the inventor of the first implantable insulin pump, the rechargeable pacemaker and various coronary stents.

Dr. Fischell experienced an aura one day out of the blue.  He had never had anything like this happen before, and he says that it scared him to death because he thought he was about to have a stroke.  The interesting thing is that after the aura, nothing happened – there was no migraine that followed.  Nonetheless, it got Dr. Fischell thinking about what causes aura and migraines, and what can be done to stop the aura so that the migraine never materializes.

After extensive research, Dr. Fischell created a box that has two handles – one on each side.  When an aura happens it is because the brain is experiencing a neurological disturbance where the nerves misfire.  The occipital cortex, an area at the back of the head, is usually the area involved in the misfiring.  The box that Dr. Fischell created is placed at the back of the head, where the auras begin, and a trigger on the device emits two magnetic pulses 15 seconds apart.  This silences the nerve activity and shuts down the aura, thus stopping the migraine before it actually starts.

The device – called Neuralieve Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) –  has been tested on enough people that Dr. Fischell has applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be able to begin selling it as soon as early next year.

This is a huge advance toward the treatment of migraines.  Since it is non-invasive and involves no medication, there are definite plusses.  Of course, not all treatments work for all people.  The doctor is confident enough about the device that he is considering having people use it and if it doesn’t work for them, send it back and he will refund their money minus a small refurbishing fee. 

Hopefully he will get FDA approval and people will be able to try the device and see if there truly is a new and different way to eliminate migraines.
 


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Migraine Relief from Dental Device

Written by AnaLise on October 2, 2008 – 2:48 pm -

There are a number of causes for migraine headaches from food allergies to muscle and nerve problems and pressure to stress.  There are just as many ways to treat migraine headaches.  Some work well and some don’t.  It depends on the person.  Something that works well for one person might do absolutely nothing for another person and vice-versa.  Researchers and doctors are finding new ways to treat migraines on a regular basis.

There is another idea when it comes to the treatment and relief of migraines.  If you are familiar with a person who grinds their teeth – especially in their sleep – without realizing it, you are probably aware that they often get headaches.  When a person grinds their teeth regularly, they are putting pressure on the jaw, the muscles and the nerves in the area. This, in turn can cause the muscles and nerves in the back of the head and neck to tighten and pinch, causing severe headaches and migraine headaches.

Not all migraines are caused this way, but a large amount of them are.  Doctors don’t always realize that she should be looking at the jaw and the teeth to try and determine if they are involved in a person’s migraine headaches.  A dentist, on the other hand, is used to looking at teeth, gums and jaw to discern the root of problems.  Dentists have determined that individuals who have ground down their teeth, have lumps on the gums and have problems with their jaws often have migraine headaches.  The problem is that these individuals usually grind their teeth in their sleep and they grind them tightly, quite hard, and constantly – much more than individuals who just grind their teeth once in a while.  They don’t realize the connection between the grinding and the migraines.  In fact, even doctors don’t realize that this type of grinding puts tremendous stress on the muscles in the forehead, causing headaches.

One dentist has determined a good form of treatment to relieve both the grinding and the migraines.  The same type of apparatus that fits over the teeth called the NTI-tss dental device, created by Dr. James Boyd, can be used in the mouth to eliminate the grinding and relax the muscles, thus eliminating many of the migraines.  The device is usually only worn at night and once the muscles are trained to stop tightening, the person can use the device only when they have a migraine episode, or possibly not have to wear it at all.

If you think that this could be the cause of your headaches or somebody else’s, you can find more information at www.headacheprevention.com.


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Migraines that Control Your Life

Written by AnaLise on September 25, 2008 – 6:42 am -

I talked to someone recently who described their headaches to me.  These were no ordinary headaches.  The headaches were so bad that everything hurt.  She told me that her face sometimes hurt so badly during those headaches that she wished she could pull her teeth out.  One at a time.

There are so many millions of people who suffer from migraine headaches that this has become a major epidemic.  Researchers are working constantly to find effective treatment for these migraines, and still some people suffer without end.
At least research has found some effective ways to manage the pain even though there is no cure for migraines. 

Part of the problem is that most people do not understand migraines.  The person who spoke to me about migraines said that she was frustrated about this fact.  If she could, she would have every person have at least one migraine headache in their lifetime.  This way they would be able to understand how debilitating these headaches are and not make light of them.

Many people get their first migraine before they even reach their teens.  Many doctors have said for a long time that children don’t get migraines.  Recent research has revealed that indeed, some children do have migraines, and often they are the beginning of a regular syndrome. 

In addition, quite often, individuals who suffer from migraine headaches have a genetic predisposition to them because their parent – usually their mother – had them as well. 

Once my friend found a medication or two that worked, she was able to resume her regular career and social life.  Sometimes she gets a bad migraine in the middle of the night and has to take medication to stop the pain and other symptoms. 

There are more options now than ever before when it comes to migraines. If you suffer from migraines there is help available.  Find a medical professional who specializes in pain control or migraines and can help.  You can also contact the National Migraine Association at www.migraines.org.


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Confusing Migraines for Other Problems

Written by AnaLise on September 25, 2008 – 6:37 am -

There are a lot of myths surrounding migraine headaches.  It used to be that doctors didn’t believe they were real – they were a figment of your imagination, especially if they were suffered by women.

There were also many ideas about what to do to help relieve the symptoms of these debilitating headaches.  There was ice, aspirin, and a few other ideas, including somehow trying to get some sleep.  Of course, usually the doctors that suggested these ideas probably never had a migraine headache themselves.

Some of the health issues that migraines are confused for are eye problems, for one.  Sometimes eye problems cause headaches, and often, the misdiagnosis results in the individual getting glasses only to find that the headaches continue.

There’s always the old “it’s just a sinus headache” answer.  People talk about sinus problems and allergies as the cause for the headaches, but even with the normal sinus remedies, the headaches still persist.

Hormones are also another easy thing to blame for migraines.  Sometimes they are part of the cause of headaches, however, when hormones are erroneously blamed for migraines, not only are the migraines not eliminated with hormone treatment, but, in addition, the hormone treatment can do harm – long lasting harm – to the body.

Additionally, the fact that a person is under stress is often singled out as the cause of a migraine.  Often, medication is prescribed and may take the edge off; however, usually the headaches do not stop.

As a result of all of the misconceptions migraines can often continue, increase in frequency and worsen over time.  Ignoring the debilitating headaches is not a good option.  If you find yourself at the point where your routine is disrupted on a regular basis or you can’t stand the pain any longer, it’s time to get help from a professional who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches.


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Regence Won’t Cover Botox for Migraine Relief

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:47 pm -

For many migraine sufferers Botox is the last possible chance for relief.  When they have suffered migraine after migraine and tried treatment or medication of every type without finding relief for their debilitating symptoms, some migraine sufferers turn to Botox.

This is not a decision made lightly.  For one thing, there has to be approval by the insurance company along with proof that the person has tried just about everything else without success or relief.  For another thing, a Botox treatment is no small issue.  Treatment usually involves injections into several sites including the temples, neck, back of the head and shoulders.  This is not something a person decides to do on a whim, nor is it something that someone like me, who is terrified of needles, decides to do because they just don’t want to try whatever else is available. In my case, I’ll try anything before I have to take a shot, much less, multiple shots.

Now, Regence in Washington State is eliminating coverage for Botox starting October 1, leaving the individuals who have tried every treatment and taken every medication without relief, with no coverage for the one treatment and form of relief that they have been able to find.

True, Botox does not work for everyone.  But, not everyone wants to even try it.  Most people are very content to take some of the excellent migraine medications available to either control or prevent migraines.  The people who move on to Botox are usually patients who get no relief from available medications or who have such strong reactions to the medication that they have to try something else. 

Regence says that it is discontinuing coverage for Botox treatment of migraines because it is not clinically proven.  If you ask the people whose headaches are better because they are using Botox injections, they will tell you different.  In addition, more and more research points to one cause of migraines being muscles that spasm, creating pressure on nerves in the head.  Since Botox stops the spasms and paralyzes the muscles, the logic is that somewhere there is clinical proof that Botox can help migraine sufferers.

Currently, there are studies being completed at the Swedish Headache Center.  Researchers and doctors there say that Regence has acted prematurely in discontinuing Botox treatment for migraines.  They have stated that the results of their testing and studies – to be released shortly – will prove without a doubt that Botox can control or eliminate chronic migraines.  Also, Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox plans to petition the FDA for approval to use Botox to treat migraine headaches.

Regence has stated that if sufficient information becomes available, they will reconsider their position.


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Finally, Some Accurate Migraine Information

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:43 pm -

Migraine sufferers get it.  Some doctors and health professionals get it, too.  And, there are some employers who get it.  They understand that migraine headaches are not just an excuse not to go to work, take care of business, clean the house, or do anything and everything else a migraine sufferer has to do.

Those of us who have suffered from migraines understand the meaning of pain.  In fact, some women have reported that their migraine headaches are worse than the pain of childbirth.  I can attest to the fact that this is true.  Natural childbirth without medication was uncomfortable but not unbearable.  Migraine headaches are overwhelming – even with pain medication and trips to the emergency room.

There is hope for migraine sufferers, and some of it is located within the pages of a newly released book entitled, “The Migraine Brain” by Carolyn Bernstein, M.D.  Dr. Bernstein is a top notch neurologist who has been on the Harvard Medical School faculty for seventeen years.  Her partner in research and writing, Elaine McArdle has helped compile the information included in “The Migraine Brain.”

Dr. Bernstein was studying to become a neurologist when she started experiencing migraines.  During the course of her migraine episodes, she began to turn her attention to causes and remedies and focus on these aspects while she was earning her doctorate.  Her findings from those days through her years as part of the Harvard Medical School faculty form the basis for the book.

In addition to writing the book, Dr. Bernstein has established the Women’s Headache Center at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This is one of the first clinics of this type in the world.  It was designed by women who suffer from migraines and offers treatment through two staff neurologists, a psychiatrist, support groups and other services.

Since the first day that the clinic opened, Dr. Bernstein has been receiving calls and visits from people throughout the country and around the world in search of relief.

“The Migraine Brain” is a must for people who suffer from migraines – especially women.  The information presented in the book has been tried and tested by Dr. Bernstein over nearly two decades.  It brings accurate information and hope to individuals who suffer from migraines and to the professionals who treat them.

 


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Migraines Linked to Blood Clots

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:40 pm -

We have finally gotten to the place in society where more doctors and health professionals are acknowledging the fact that migraines are truly debilitating headaches, and they are now trying to do something about those headaches.

For many years people were basically told to take two aspirin…Well, you know the rest.  It was little comfort to hear that you could go home and grin and bear it, but there was no real relief.

There is more research and more relief these days, and more information to help in the understanding of migraine headaches.  For example, one important finding is that migraines are often linked to stroke. 

This is important information, but until recently, there was no actual information about how and why they were linked to stroke.  Recent information points to the fact that many people with migraines develop atherosclerosis more often and much sooner than people who do not suffer from migraines, and atherosclerosis is a major factor in strokes.  This information is in the process of being confirmed.

There is information that sheds light on migraines, blood clots and stroke.  A study of the medical records of individuals who suffered from migraines revealed that their records showed they had increased vein-related blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis, DVT, and pulmonary embolism.  The incidence of these blood clots for people who suffered from migraines was much higher than in those who did not suffer from migraines.  The information is still being re-confirmed, but it is an exciting finding that could shed new light on prevention and treatment of migraines for some migraineurs. 

Studies during the past few years have shown links between migraines and stroke, as well as various mutations and genetic factors.  The current study showing the link with vein-related blood clots could tie migraine and stroke together with a cause, helping physicians find relief for their patients with migraines and lower their possibility of stroke at the same time.


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Types of Migraines You Don’t Always Hear About

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 8:01 am -

Most of us have heard about or experienced a migraine headache in our lifetime.  We know about the nausea, the pounding pain in the head, the sensitivity to light and many of the other symptoms that can occur.  We know about lying down in a quiet dark room and taking whatever medication – usually prescribed by our physician – that will help.

What most of us don’t know about and have not heard about are types of migraines that don’t have the usual migraine symptoms and are not easily identified or diagnosed.

One type of migraine is called an abdominal migraine.  These migraines affect both children and adults and, rather than having severe headache, the symptoms are severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and is caused by changes in the levels of histamine and serotonin in the body.  The symptoms are decreased or eliminated by some of the common migraine prevention medications.

Other migraines don’t involve headaches at all, but involve symptoms from temporary blindness to stomach pain to temporary paralysis.  Since there are no actual tests for these migraines, they are often misdiagnosed as a virus, mini-stroke, epilepsy or even appendicitis.  It can be dangerous to diagnose and treat these migraines, as the wrong medication could be harmful, if not, fatal.

Basilar migraines are migraines that have severe dizziness, vomiting, ringing in the ears, diarrhea, slurred speech and fainting.  At least three of these symptoms occur together in Basilar migraines.  The symptoms last for an hour or so and are following by terrible throbbing headaches on both sides of the head that can last up to 72 hours.  These can be confused for epilepsy, and the patient should see a neurologist for treatment.  There are various medications available.

Hemiplegic migraine involves temporary paralysis and pins and needles on one side of the body including the face, arms and legs. There can be slurred speech, confusion and vision problems, and all of this is followed by the actual headache.  These can be confused with stroke or mini-stroke and medications can help, but typical triptans which are used for migraines should usually not be used to treat these migraines.

Retinal migraines involve temporary blindness in one eye or seeing spots along with or followed by the migraine headache.  Doctors do not understand this condition, but feel it is often linked to over-exercise or over exertion and can be mistaken for blood clots in the eye.

Status migraines are the same as migraines but differ in the fact that they last at least 72 hours or can last for weeks.  These migraines are often due to some of the painkillers used or may be happening because the migraine medications being used are not working well.  Changing medication can eliminate or greatly reduce these headaches.  These headaches, however, can be serious enough to require hospitalization.

The information regarding and identifying different types of migraines is important for all of us to know.  It can help us avoid pain and could even save our life or the life of someone we know.  If you experience any of these symptoms make sure to discuss them with your doctor and if they cannot figure out what the problem is, let them know about what you have learned here.


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Under-Diagnosed Migraines Due to Stigma

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 7:05 am -

Migraine headaches have been becoming more prevalent throughout the United States in the past few years.  In fact, it is estimated that about 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, and many of that number suffer from chronic or ongoing migraines.

This is a large number of people, and research shows that many of these migraine sufferers remain undiagnosed, under-diagnosed and untreated.  Less than half of the 30 million are diagnosed by a medical practitioner and as a result, their lives are impacted severely.

Without diagnosis and treatment for migraines, people are often debilitated with no relief.  If you have ever suffered a severe migraine or know someone who has, you know that the symptoms of severe nausea, extreme pain, blinding sensitivity to light and other symptoms make it impossible to function, much less work or participate in any activities of life, until the symptoms subside. 

This can take a few hours, a day or more.  Severe migraines do not usually respond to medications such as over the counter headache or migraine remedies.  Some migraines that are not too strong may respond well if migraine medication is taken immediately, however, for severe and ongoing migraines, prescription medication and/or other medical treatment is usually necessary. 

Unfortunately, there is often a stigma when it comes to migraines.  Migraines used to be called everything from “a woman’s complaint” to a reaction to stress that needs a little rest and relaxation.  Doctors did not take it seriously.  Some would prescribe pain medication, others would prescribe tranquilizers or muscle relaxers.  In some cases, these alleviated some of the pain.  In other cases, these did not help at all.

Many migraine sufferers have hesitated going through the same stigma and lack of care and concern again, and have suffered with the pain – many for years.  There is good news for them.  They no longer have to suffer.  There are any new medications available, and if one doesn’t work, there are others to choose from.  There are also various treatments and there are doctors and pain clinics that specialize in treating migraines and helping people on a long term basis. 

If you suffer from severe headaches – especially more than one or two per month, do not suffer in silence.  Find a pain or headache clinic or talk to your doctor and get some relief.  There is help available.  The stigma is no more.


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Can Ginger Help Ease Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on September 6, 2008 – 3:41 am -

It is not news to migraine sufferers that there are no real answers when it comes to causes and treatment for migraines.  Too often, when an individual suffers from migraines, especially chronic ones, there are few answers, and too often, there is no support from the person’s doctor.

It is unfortunate when doctors are at a loss as to what to do about migraines and your doctor basically throws up their hands in frustration.  Sure, there are more medications available these days that will alleviate the symptoms of migraines, but there are also many questions about those medications. 

Individuals who prefer natural treatment aren’t always comfortable with prescriptions, however, they sometimes try them when there is no other alternative.  There are worries about side effects and drug interactions.  Plus, not all treatments work for everyone, so it’ a case of hit or miss.

It is estimated that in the UK alone, there are nearly 200,000 migraine headaches suffered every single day.  Over 6 million people suffer from migraines in the UK on a regular basis. 

Research in conjunction with Migraine Action, the national migraine awareness organization in the UK have studied thousands of migraine sufferers and found that ginger has helped relieve symptoms in 63% of the people studied.  Ginger is natural and it has been used for many ailments.  Ginger – as in ginger ale – has been proven to help alleviate stomach problems including nausea and stomach pain from flu, food poisoning and other digestive issues.  Ginger is also said to help control blood pressure, diminish sinus problems and help alleviate headaches, so using it for migraines isn’t a stretch.  In fact, since nausea often accompanies migraines, even if ginger doesn’t stop the headache, it can help with the nausea.

With so many questions about migraines unanswered, and with so many individuals looking for relief from migraines, ginger could be a remedy to try.  After all, it just might help get rid of the pain and help your health at the same time.


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Microsurgery for Migraines

Written by AnaLise on September 6, 2008 – 2:46 am -

Individuals who have suffered from migraines know how debilitating they can be.  The throbbing, the nausea, the sensitivity to light.  If you have ever felt the pain of a migraine, you know it is extreme.  Some people have described it as feeling like a hot knife is stabbing you in the head, feeling like a fireplace poker is lodged through your temple, feeling like a piece of steel is slicing through your eye, and other very uncomfortable sounding situations.

There are many triggers to migraines including various foods, beverages, lack of sleep or lack of good sleep, increased stress and muscular difficulty.  Some of the treatments have involved biofeedback, vitamins, herbs, massage, stress relief, acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic care and more.  Some of these treatments help some of the people some of the time. 

In addition to these treatments, there are a variety of medications available today that attack various symptoms and causes of migraines.  Some of the medications are available without prescription and others require prescriptions.  Prescription medication for migraines is often quite expensive and out of reach for many individuals.

There is a new breakthrough for migraines that does not involve any of these other treatments.  The breakthrough is a unique surgery that is only being performed by a handful of surgeons. 

The microsurgery which is performed similar to plastic surgery is performed to take the pressure off a particular nerve in the head that when pinched causes migraines.  The procedure involves cutting part of the muscle that pinches the nerve, thus eliminating the pressure.  After surgery, which decompresses the nerve, the nerve should regenerate itself and should not respond to headaches after healing. 

The procedure works for 80% of the people who have it done, according to Georgetown University Washington Hospital.  In the individuals where the procedure does not work, a subsequent surgery can be performed to remove the nerve completely. 

There are specific symptoms necessary for individuals to have the surgery.  Also, surgery is no small feat.  This is a procedure for when you are at the point where you have tried other treatments that have not worked and you are still having migraines on a regular basis.  If you are in this situation, however, it is good news to know that there is help and relief available.


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Simple Steps to Combat Migraines

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:46 pm -

It is estimated that 45 million people in the United States suffer from migraine headaches and most of them are looking for treatment that brings them relief.  Having suffered from a few of these headaches myself, I can remember being willing to endure almost any treatment and try almost any suggestion just to get the pain, nausea and other symptoms to stop.  I even found myself in the emergency room several times because the pain was so bad.

Over time, I learned that there are things that we can do to help manage migraines and some of them have to do with lifestyle.  Getting enough sleep, managing stress, getting some exercise and avoiding certain food triggers can go a long way toward relieving the severity, intensity and/or frequency of migraines.

Sleep is necessary to keep us functioning well.  According to the Better Sleep Council, 65% of Americans lose sleep due to stress, which also happens to be a trigger for migraines.  It is important to determine the best bedtime for you so that you can get 7 to 9 hours of sleep most nights, if not every night.  It is important to be as regular about this as possible so that your body develops a wake-sleep cycle that works and helps to avoid migraines and other health issues.

Controlling tension headaches before they become migraines is essential.  Usually, with a tension headache, the muscles in the neck, head and scalp tighten and feel like there is pressure around the head.  Because these headaches are usually brought on by stress, controlling stress levels is an important part of controlling headaches.  Deep breathing, removing yourself from the task at hand for 5 to 10 minutes if possible and learning how to deal with stressful situations in a positive way can help.  Talk to your healthcare provider about your individual situation if you have been under stress and are having trouble controlling it.

Getting exercise can also help control headaches because exercise makes the muscles more flexible.  As a result, they will not tighten as quickly or severely, which can eliminate this source of headaches.  In addition, exercise helps control other health issues that could contribute to migraines.  Exercising can lower blood pressure – a major culprit in migraines – and help keep the cardiovascular system working properly.

By incorporating these few steps into your life it can minimize the effect that migraines have.  It may still be necessary to take some medication, and you will still probably experience some of these debilitating headaches, but they should be fewer, further between and less painful.


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Migraine Relief Different for Each Person

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:42 pm -

Anyone who has suffered from migraine headaches will tell you that they would try anything at least once to get rid of a migraine when it occurs.  Migraine headaches are often debilitating and the pain and other symptoms are overwhelming.

Major symptoms include nausea, sensitivity to noise and light plus severe pain on one side of the head or the other.  There are other symptoms as well, and they vary from individual to individual.

Because migraine headaches and their causes are unique to each person, so are the remedies.  In the past, there were one or two migraine medications available but most people had to come up with their own way to relieve the headaches, or they had to go to the doctor or the emergency room to get help and relief.

These days there are many more medications available.  Some work better than others, and this, too is an area that is unique to the individual.  It is similar to any other medical issue where medication is used – sometimes you and your doctor need to try a few medications before you find a good fit.

In addition to medication, there are a number of different methods of relief that have been reported to doctors.  Some of them have no sound medical basis, but people report that they have worked for them.  Some people have reported that exercise helped relieve their migraines, while others say that exercise simply made the nasty headaches worse.  Others report everything from music to herbal tea, acupuncture, acupressure and massage have stopped migraines.  Still others have reported that ice packs or heating pads have worked, as well as, finding that meditation, yoga, tai-chi, herbal supplements, aromatherapy, swimming, chiropractic care and physical therapy have successfully relieved their migraines. 

If you are suffering from migraines – especially recurring ones – see your doctor to determine if there are any specific physical or neurological causes.  There are probably medications that your doctor can prescribe depending on your unique situation.  If you are not comfortable taking medications, try some of the suggestions above and see if they help.  You never know where you can find relief from your migraines, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.


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Migraines and the Military

Written by AnaLise on August 21, 2008 – 6:38 pm -

Nearly 8% of all men and 12% of all women in the United States suffer from migraine headaches.  Most migraine sufferers have gone to the doctor and gotten some sort of medication – usually triptans – to subdue these headaches.
Some migraine sufferers use natural or holistic methods to control migraines, and others use a combination of medication and other methods to keep their migraines to a minimum.

Individuals in the military are no exception.  They get migraines right along with the rest of the nation and they need ways to deal with these debilitating headaches.  Unfortunately, they don’t seem to get as much help as the general public when it comes to relieving migraine symptoms.

Recently results of a retroactive study were released involving soldiers returning from Iraq.  The study focused on soldiers with migraines and the treatment that was afforded them.  The results were somewhat surprising and disappointing.

Over 2700 soldiers were screened.  19% (518) had migraine headaches during their tour of duty.  Another 17.5% (476) met the criteria for probable migraines.  This combines to show over 36% of the troops in the study suffered from migraines, which is a number 3 times the amount of the general population.

There are many obvious reasons for this number, though the percentage was not expected to be nearly that high.  Lack of proper, comfortable, uninterrupted sleep is one reason for the higher percentage.  Sleep problems are a huge trigger for migraines, and these are built into a combat soldier’s life.  In addition, extreme heat, chemical fumes, dehydration, pressures in aircraft, and disruptive meal patterns were cited.  The heat in their uniforms alone was also considered a trigger.

These triggers are not surprises.  What was a surprise to researchers was that these migraine headaches were not controlled by triptans, which are the most common medications to prevent and treat migraines.  Of all organizations, the military has access to any medications it needs, and to leave individuals suffering with little or no relief when relief is easily available is not only unfair and unkind, but negligent.   Triptans not only treat migraines by stopping them at the first sign of the headaches, but also by being used on a regular basis to avoid and eliminate migraines.  This means that many of the soldiers who experienced migraines in Iraq (or other places) could have avoided the suffering from a migraine or from migraines that they were having regularly by taking the medication to prevent them.

The United States expects a great deal of its military men and women, especially right now with troops in the Middle East and elsewhere.  It is not unreasonable to expect that the country should take care of the individuals who are called to serve by simply providing them with the medical care that they need. 


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Migraines Can Be Helped By Birth Control Pills

Written by AnaLise on August 15, 2008 – 8:29 am -

If you are a woman who gets migraine headaches that are coupled with getting your period, there is new information and hope for you.

Researches have determined that migraines from menstrual periods can be reduced, and possibly eliminated, through the use of oral contraceptives combined with other medications.  Scott and White is the company that has done the research, and they are recruiting women who have migraines associated with their periods for an eight month study.

Migraines associated with periods are more common than is widely known.  About 10% of women get these debilitating headaches during their periods, and this amounts to around 10 to 15 million women who are suffering.   Because hormones fluctuate a lot during this time, it is thought that this brings on migraines. 

Frovatriptan has been used to fight migraines once they have started, however, research is showing that this medication – before migraines start – combined with continuous oral birth control can control or eliminate these migraines.  This medication also reduces nausea and sensitivity to light that often accompanies migraines.

Dr. Patricia Sulak, an obstetrician/gynecologist and researcher for Scott and White states, “By activating certain receptors in the brain, altering neurochemistry and dilating blood vessels during a migraine, we may better control the severity of these headaches.  We are investigating how effective using a contraceptive pill may be to provide some relief these women.”

The idea behind the study is to use Frovatriptan before and during a woman’s period and possibly during other critical times, while keeping a woman on birth control pills continuously.  There is evidence that this will reduce the severity and frequency of the headaches.

This should be great news for women who suffer from this type of headache.


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More Information on Migraine Link to Serious Disease

Written by AnaLise on August 15, 2008 – 8:19 am -

There have been many reports of the link between migraine headaches and other health problems.  We can look at this information in a negative way or we can look at it as a warning and a way to take steps to deal with the issue.  As they say, forewarned is fore armed.

Studies have revealed that individuals who suffer from migraines are more susceptible to other serious diseases.  Of course, the main condition that migraine sufferers are susceptible to is stroke.  The risk of stroke in migraine sufferers is more than double that of individuals without migraines.  The risk in females is even higher. 

In fact, women who suffer from migraines about once per week are three times more likely to suffer a stroke than women who do not get migraines.  The study that determined these results included over 27,000 women over 45 years old, who were tracked for over 12 years.

There are many questions about migraines and their causes.  Experts agree that migraines are related to a malfunction of the blood vessels, neurotransmitters and nerves in the brain.  They are usually a long term health issue and can occur frequently, such as a few days per week or as infrequently as annually. 

Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to experience a migraine just before or during their menstrual period.  Pain killers and other migraine medication can help subdue migraines, however, there can be some nasty side effects, such as worse nausea and other effects.

Importantly, many migraine sufferers have low magnesium, so using magnesium can be helpful in eliminating or controlling them.  Taking a supplement  and eating dark green leafy vegetables, which are high in magnesium can be used to prevent or treat migraines.  Adding vitamin B12 can help as well.  Getting about 400 mg. per day of both might eliminate the migraines totally.  Another study showed that migraine sufferers who took feverfew (an herb) on a regular basis saw a substantial reduction in the number of migraines they experienced, as well as their severity.

None of these can necessarily cure migraines, but most of us who have suffered from them are happy to find relief when we can.  In addition, with the link between migraines and serious disease, such as stroke, finding ways to combat these headaches now can lead to long term health benefits.


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Migraines Without Insurance

Written by AnaLise on August 5, 2008 – 6:25 pm -

If you are a migraine sufferer or close to someone who is, you know how debilitating migraines can be.   You may or may not know that many over the counter medications – even the ones for migraines – can make the migraines worse because the way they work on the blood vessels in the head does the opposite of what is needed to stop a migraine.

The best alternatives to over the counter medications are prescription medications that are specifically designed to combat migraines.  There are a number of migraine medications on the market now and they work on specific symptoms of migraines.  Most of these medications work relatively quickly, especially when taken at the beginning of a migraine, as opposed to waiting until a migraine is full blown.

All of this is good and is essential in managing migraines – as long as you have insurance or, if you have no insurance, as long as you can afford these medications. 

For example, one of the top migraine medications is Imitrex.  Imitrex came out about 12 years ago and cost $8.95 per tablet.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Imitrex now costs about $19 per tablet.  It is interesting that as more and more people have used the medication, its cost has gone up, not down.  With the economic situation the way it is, and with so many people who do not have insurance, what to people do to deal with migraines if they cannot afford the Imitrex?

Some of them suffer – keeping them off work and costing more money which affects the economy, or they go to the emergency room, a more expensive solution to the problem, which will bring relief to the pain and help make the medical crisis in this country worse because the ER has to take people no matter whether they have insurance or not.  This means that f the person can’t pay for the ER services; the hospital – and the medical system – has to absorb the cost, thus making the deficits larger and driving costs up.  So, instead of paying for a $19 pill, the migraine sufferer has now dealt with a hospital visit for somewhere between $300 to $600.

What is the solution?  Hopefully the drug companies will get realistic about the cost of medication.  Migraines are not a small issue.  They can lead to stroke, coma, heart attacks, and, in some cases, death.  Drug companies need to be more responsible in making migraine medication available at a more reasonable cost so that they are not contributing to the suffering of millions of people and the deficits in the medical and hospital system.


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Migraines are not a Myth

Written by AnaLise on August 5, 2008 – 6:22 pm -

There are many myths surrounding migraines, and there are too many people who either don’t understand them or make light of them, leaving migraine sufferers in situations where they are in extreme debilitating pain and misunderstood, as well.

If you have ever known someone who suffers from migraines, you have probably seen them nauseated, in pain, needing to be in a dark and quiet place, sensitive to smells and seeing flashes of light.  These are just a few of the real symptoms that accompany migraines.

The reality is that migraines are a physiological and biological event affecting the blood vessels in the head.  The problem is that too many doctors and well meaning friends and family members brush off individuals who suffer from migraines by telling them that they need to try not to “stress out” so much, or they need to get help for their depression among other things.

Unfortunately, since stress and depression are not the actual causes of migraines, individuals who are trying to deal with migraines are often misdiagnosed and put on medication that is not proper for them.  In fact, the wrong medication can often make migraines even worse.  Aside from this problem, if migraines are not treated properly, it has been proven that this could lead to stroke, heart attack, permanent visual problems and even sending the person into a coma.

Migraines are a real disease.  They have been proven to be genetic, and it is now known that if one parent of a person has had migraines, the person has a 50% chance of suffering from migraines, as well. 

It has also been proven that there are various triggers for migraines.  Some are triggers that can be controlled, such as certain foods like chocolate, nuts and red wine or hard alcohol and cigarettes.  Other triggers cannot be controlled, such as a rise or fall in barometric pressure, humidity, hormone levels and more.

If you have suffered from migraines and have not found a doctor that is diagnosing and treating them correctly or is not taking you seriously, keep looking and don’t give up.  Migraines are real health problems and need to be treated.

There is help at www.migraines.org.


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Migraine Basics

Written by AnaLise on July 31, 2008 – 7:41 pm -

Migraines have become widely known as the headaches that are debilitating and often very stubborn and difficult to treat.  They are often confused with cluster headaches or just plain old bad headaches, sending many to doctors and neurologists only to find that they are not suffering from a migraine at all.

 

Over 28 million individuals actually do suffer from migraines and women suffer from migraines over 3 times as often as men do.  It is interesting that pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy actually experience a decrease in migraines, a phenomenon that is being studied by researchers.

 

How do you know if you have a bad headache or a migraine?  For one thing, migraines usually come on with pain on one side of the head or the other.  This is not always the case, though, as up to 40% of migraines can affect both sides of the head. 

 

Often, migraines come on with other symptoms, such as nausea, extreme sensitivity to light and noise and other symptoms including not being able to tolerate things that you normally tolerate well.  These could include not being able to wear a headband or pull your hair back into a pony tail, not being able to wear a necklace or anything that feels tight around the neck, limbs or body, and not being able to lie down on a pillow.

 

Migraines are triggered by various stimuli.  Some of these are MSG (found in Chinese and other foods, including meat tenderizer and Accent), nitrites (found in hot dogs and other meats), caffeine, chocolate, certain nuts, alcohol, sleeping too much or not enough, hormonal changes, menstrual periods, pregnancy, humidity, barometric pressure and other foods or smells. 

 

Migraine medication and treatment has advanced a great deal during the past decade.  There are many types of medications available to treat migraines, as well as treatments including biofeedback, relaxation therapy and more.

 

If you feel you are having any of these symptoms and are having difficulty eliminating or controlling them, contact your doctor to see what will work for you.  The first thing is knowing how to identify migraines.  The next is knowing that help is available.


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