A migraine is more than just a bad headache! Some headaches may last for a long time or leave you tired and overwhelmed. While these experiences can be similar to getting a migraine, it is important to understand the difference between a migraine and a headache. A migraine is actually a neurological condition that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including painful headaches. If you or someone you know gets migraines, then you have probably heard about the debilitating headaches accompanying a migraine attack. However, migraines can also cause other symptoms and ruin your day. Tell your doctor if you start noticing signs and symptoms of a migraine. You can also check out these unique ways to overcome migraines.
What Is a Migraine?
Migraines are considered a neurological condition caused by neurological abnormalities in the brain. People commonly use the word migraine to refer to the painful and debilitating headaches that come with this condition. A migraine is typically a recurring condition where you might experience severe headaches and other symptoms multiple times a week, month, or year. The headaches associated with migraines can cause uncomfortable symptoms that may last for hours or even days at a time. Unlike other headache disorders, migraines require different treatment approaches to provide longer-lasting relief. Migraines typically occur in four distinct phases: prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome. The prodrome and aura phases commonly occur before your headache symptoms begin and function as a warning sign that a migraine attack is coming. The headache phase is what is most commonly referred to as a migraine because of the intense pain and other symptoms. The final phase of a migraine attack can leave you feeling fatigued and other symptoms after the headache fades away.
Signs & Symptoms of a Migraine
During the first phase of a headache, known as the prodrome phase, you may start to experience fatigue, yawning, irritability, and moodiness. Food cravings and difficulty concentrating can also accompany the prodrome phase. All these symptoms can signal an upcoming migraine attack. During the headache phase of a migraine, you may experience moderate to severe head pain that can occur on one or both sides of your head. Some people experience migraine pain around their eyes and behind their cheeks, while others may experience a throbbing or pulsing pain along the forehead or at the base of their skull. Head pain with a migraine is typically described as a throbbing, pulsating, or pounding sensation. Physical symptoms of a migraine may worsen with physical activity or any sudden movement. You may experience dizziness or feel faint. Other symptoms of a migraine include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. A migraine with aura refers to visual symptoms like flashes of light, blind spots, or blurred vision.
9 Ways to Manage Migraine Attacks
Learn to recognize what triggers your migraine attacks and try to avoid or eliminate those triggers from your daily routines. While there is no cure for migraines, you can try these nine different ways to help manage your migraine attacks and lessen your symptoms.
One of the easiest things you can do to help prevent a migraine attack is to stay hydrated. For some people who experience migraines, dehydration can trigger an attack. Hydration plays a vital role in your body’s healthy functioning. Getting enough water to drink each day will help your cells receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly. Staying hydrated helps to regulate your body temperature, lubricate your joints, prevent infections, and improve your overall sleep quality, cognition, and mood.
Avoiding Food Triggers
The foods you eat can also play a large role in how to prevent a migraine attack. Certain foods and beverages like processed foods and alcoholic beverages may trigger your migraines. Foods like hot dogs and deli meats with a food additive called nitrates can trigger a migraine. Another flavor enhancer added to foods, known as monosodium glutamate (MSG), may also trigger a migraine. You may also want to avoid or limit processed foods, pickled foods, and certain dairy products that could trigger a migraine attack.
Essential oil diffusers in your home or office can release these therapeutic oils into the air for you to inhale. You can also apply diluted essential oils directly to the skin with a carrier oil. Lavender oil and peppermint oil have been known to ease migraine pain. When you start to recognize the signs of a migraine attack during the prodrome phase, you may incorporate lavender or peppermint to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Essential oils can prompt you to relax and release any built-up tension in the body.
Yoga offers a low-impact stretching and exercise routine that helps you focus on breathing, body posture, and meditation. Many people who practice yoga enjoy the benefits of promoting overall health and well-being through this meditative practice. Yoga can help release tension throughout your body, including areas that may trigger a migraine attack. Yoga may help relieve the intensity of a migraine attack and help reduce the length and frequency of your migraines. Your doctor may recommend a low-impact activity like yoga to help improve your vascular health and as a complementary approach to treating migraines.
Therapeutic massage can also help reduce the symptoms and frequency of migraines. When you get a massage, you experience tension relief in your muscles. Massage can also promote higher levels of serotonin released into the body, which can boost your mood and possibly even prevent a migraine attack. Massages are typically low risk with very few side effects, so you can enjoy the benefits like reducing your stress, increasing your relaxation, and improving heart health for better circulation and lowered heart rate. You may also find that massaging your scalp or temples when you have a migraine can help remedy your pain.
Practice stress management techniques to help alleviate physical tension in your body and calm your mind. Stress management techniques can include deep breathing exercises that help bring oxygen to your organs and cells and offer an opportunity for mindfulness and meditation. You might find that listening to relaxing music might help ease your stress. Other stress management techniques can include improving your time management, incorporating more time into your schedule for relaxation, and talking with a counselor or therapist.
Getting a good night’s sleep does wonders for your health and well-being. Poor sleep quality can lead to increased stress, lower serotonin levels, and boost your immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep or wake up frequently at night, you could experience more painful migraine symptoms. If you notice signs and symptoms of a migraine attack, you may experience excessive sleepiness. Make time to rest, especially when you feel a migraine attack coming on. Restful sleep can help reduce the severity and length of your symptoms.
Visit your chiropractor for help in relieving your migraine symptoms. Chiropractors perform adjustments to your spine and joints that restore healthy functioning in your body. A chiropractic adjustment to your neck and back can resolve misalignments in your spine that may contribute to migraine attacks. Chiropractors also use therapeutic massage and myofascial release massage to target joints, muscles, and connective tissues in the body. Trigger point therapies can also target tense areas and provide tension relief. Your chiropractor can talk to you about how poor posture can contribute to migraine attacks while engaging in proper posture can help prevent migraines.
Visit your physical therapist to learn more about how you can take an active role in preventing migraines and easing your symptoms. A physical therapist will teach you stretches, exercises, and other techniques to reduce your pain and other symptoms. Learn how to apply ice and heat effectively during different phases of a migraine attack. Certain stretches may alleviate your discomfort before, during, or after a migraine attack. Focusing on stretching and body mechanics can help you find the best positions to alleviate tension and reduce migraine symptoms. Physical therapists also perform soft tissue mobilization and other therapeutic massage techniques to relax trigger points and improve overall health and functioning.
If you deal with migraines, you know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating your symptoms. Instead, identifying what triggers your migraines and what helps with your specific symptoms will help bring about the most relief. Talk to our team of doctors at AICA Orthopedics in Conyers to learn about all your options for overcoming migraines. We have orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, neurologists, and physical therapists all in one convenient location. Our doctors work together to provide you with a comprehensive plan of care to address your specific migraine symptoms. Visit us online or in person to get started today. Our doctors at AICA Orthopedics can help you explore all your options for managing your migraines more effectively.