Migraines- how to stop them taking over your life

Migraine is a condition that can be crippling for sufferers, with the pain often being described as a severe throbbing or pulsating sensation that can be on either side of the head or both at the same time.

According to statistics from National institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), it is a problem which affects around one in seven people globally and is two to three times more common in women than men. But what are the symptoms of a migraine? It is more than ‘just a headache’ – as well as causing pain, it can also be accompanied by disturbed vision called aura, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and smells. Some migraine sufferers have also trouble speaking and experience tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg. The aura can act as a warning symptom before or with the migraine. An aura can include temporary visual signs and symptoms, such as blind spots, as well as flashes of light and changes in vision.

Migraine attacks can last anywhere from just a few hours to days, meaning it can have a huge effect on a person’s daily life. The exact cause of migraines is unknown but, ‘they’re thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.’ Researchers are yet to discover a definitive cause of this change in brain activity, but hereditary factors could also be involved. So what can be done to help the migraine symptoms ? Medication is a proven way to both treat and prevent migraines and there are migraine drugs available, which are usually taken daily over a period of six months to get the pain under control.

However, manual therapy can often have a positive impact as an additional tool to medical management. Here at Physiomove, we see migraine sufferers on whom we carry out a thorough examination to help determine the root cause of the pain. Because migraines can often be triggered by physical factors such as poor posture and muscle tension – this is where physiotherapy can be most beneficial. In these cases, treatments such as spinal physiotherapy will often be recommended as part of an overall treatment plan. This may include work to mobilise the areas of the neck which feel sensitive or stiff, as well as rehabilitation to loosen tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles to reduce pain over time.

Acupuncture is another tool which can prove successful for migraine patients. It can help the body to release pain-relieving chemicals, such as endorphins and also help relax the muscles. It needs to be stressed though that one of the biggest factors in managing the frequency and intensity of migraines, is lifestyle choices. Some examples of making simple changes to your day-to-day life include:

Diet – some foods can function as migraine triggers for sufferers so you should limit how often you eat those things. Also eating regular, healthy and balanced meals can be another straightforward way to prevent migraines. Taking supplements can be also helpful for some
Exercise – regular exercise can reduce or prevent the symptoms of migraines. Incorporating some sort of physical exercise each day, for example walking, running or strength training
Sleep – Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, which means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Sleep also reduces stress and anxiety and strengthens your immune system, all of which can help ward off migraines
Stress management – managing stress is crucial to reducing the risk of migraines as it can be a huge trigger, caused by muscle tension. Taking time to relax and unwind is vital.

Contact us whilst migraines can be a debilitating condition for sufferers, we have seen that there are varying treatment options and lifestyle changes that can be a significant help in both easing the symptoms of migraines or preventing them from occurring in the first place. If you suffer from migraines and would like more information on how we can help you, please contact us to speak to one of our team.