Symptoms by body part:
- eye pain
- Visual Changes
Frontal Sinus/Cranium (Head)
- Headache Pain
- Throbbing pain
Occipital region (Base of Skull)
- Headache Pain
What causes a Migraine?
It is important to understand that Migraines can have one, or many systems involved with Neurological, Biomechanical, Oxygen and Nutritional function. They are often unilateral, but many variations exist. Research suggests that migraines have a strong, central brain mechanism known as a genetically linked pervasive disease. This causes hyper-excitation in the brain and a neuro-chemical response resulting in migraines. New studies are looking towards locating the genetic markers that may trigger migraine response. There are many subclasses of Migraines, and many individuals who believe that they have migraines are often experiencing a different type of headache, altogether.
Migraines can occur when the nerves and blood vessels at the base of the skull are compressed by joints and muscles, causing an increase in inflammation and pressure. This is a result of aberrant biomechanics in the region where the skull and the spine articulate. This reduces activation to certain regions of the brain, and causes increased excitation to others, resulting in hypersensitivity to the central nervous system.
Lack of oxygenation is a major contributor to migraine pain, and certainly creates increased hypersensitivity of the brain, as it is starving for oxygen and will not function normally without appropriate levels. The actual pain of a migraine headache occurs when the blood vessels expand beyond their normal diameter, stretching the pain receptors in the arteries, known as nociceptors. They expand in response to compression of the arteries at the base of the skull, and like a bag filled with water, the blood is relocated to other blood vessels, often in the back of the skull, temple, sinus and orbital regions. This manifests as throbbing pain while the blood vessels dilate and constrict. A major part of treatment is focused around restoring adequate oxygen levels to the blood stream, reducing vasodilation response.
Forward head posture and slumped shoulders also contribute to Migraines by causing stress on the neck and upper back. This forces your head into extension, further compressing the area at the base of your skull. Compression of the rib cage, inhibiting expansion of the lungs, further reduces oxygen and causes vasospasm (blood vessel constriction/dilation) as the brain requires a great amount of oxygen and will sacrifice comfort to achieve that level.
Neurological dysfunction within the brain stem, especially regions associated with balance, coordination, light/auditory sensitivity, autonomic function (blood vessel dilation, cardiac function, digestion, stress) and eye movements are major contributors to Migraines. When these areas are not functioning appropriately, we will often experience abnormal discharge of cells within the brain stem, causing abnormal constriction/dilation of our blood vessels (especially of the the basilar artery, or posterior circulation of our cortex and brain stem). This, in combination with abnormal biomechanical function of the upper cervical spine and reduced tidal volume of our lungs due to a decrease in rib expansion and thoracic mobility, will cause the throbbing pain of the scalp, neck and eyes that is often experienced along with the visual auras associated with migraines. The throbbing sensation is due to the constriction/dilation that is occurring within our blood vessels of our suboccipital region, scalp and brain. As blood vessels expand too much we reflexively constrict our arteries to protect ourselves. This goes back and forth and is incredibly fatiguing for our brain, hence the migraine hangover many patients experience.
The occipital lobe and extrapyramidal system of our cortex receives posterior circulation, which is why we see visual auras. The posterior circulation compromise is why we see such a variety of symptoms associated with Migraines that can cause vertigo/dizziness (vestibular migraine), nausea, double vision, dysarthria (difficulty forming words appropriately, aka confabulation), imbalance, numbness/tingling, unilateral stroke like symptoms (hemiplegic migraine), eye, head and neck pain.
What symptoms to look for?
- Pain at the base of the skull
- Pain in the temple region
- Pain around the eyes and frontal sinus regions (forehead)
- Jaw pain
- Neck Pain
- Upper back/shoulder tension
- Poor Posture
- Reduced chest expansion (breathing/oxygenation)
- Visual disturbance-temporary loss of vision, zig-zag lines, blurred vision
- Spatial disorientation
- Dysphagia (difficulty forming words)
How can we alleviate your Migraines?
By locating all the areas involved in the cause of your migraine, we can formulate a comprehensive treatment plan to effect all the systems involved, whether Neurological, Structural, Oxygenation or Nutritional in origin-typically a combination of all. Through comprehensive Chiropractic, Neurological, Physical Rehabilitation and Nutrition, we are able to reduce your Brain’s hypersensitivity by balancing input to the central nervous system and retrain normal function-Migraine free.