Migraines are a complex, confusing pain for sufferers

  • <b>YOUR HEALTH | </b>By Katie Murdoch Herald writer
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2012 8:05pm

People who have experienced the pulsating pain accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sounds know it’s not just another headache.

This time it’s a migraine.

Among the 100 million people in the United States who suffer from headaches, 37 million also experience migraines, according to Migraine.com.

Treatment options are as varied as the symptoms. Available options include prescription and over-the-counter medications, natural remedies such as vitamins and peppermint oil, and visiting a chiropractor to rule out a problem with one’s alignment that could be causing headaches.

Dr. Dennis Dilday of the Everett Chiropractic Center has helped treat patients who complain of migraines.

No one knows migraines better than those suffering from them, Dilday said.

“Patients with migraines are experts in migraines,” he said.

Patients have consulted with Dilday per recommendations from friends, after exhausting other remedies or to complain of pain in their back and neck and mention they suffer from migraines.

And while he won’t promise a miracle cure, having an aligned back can ward off pain for months.

Chiropractors aren’t there to treat a migraine, they’re there to treat the spine, Dilday forewarns. But structural areas of the spine can be a contributing factor to headaches, including migraines. Problems with the bottom of the spine, for example, can be a contributing factor to headaches. Chiropractors are tuned into finding defects and adjusting them. Sometimes stress is the culprit, and Dilday discusses stress management such as tai chi and breathing techniques to help patients.

“Folks with migraines are ordinary folks doing just fine until they get a migraine,” he said. “They can come in and get adjusted.”

Migraines are a primary headache disorder. People who have a family history of migraines are more susceptible to experiencing them, according to the World Health Organization.

Triggers and symptoms can vary. For some, stress, hormones and environmental factors, like the weather and allergies, can trigger a migraine. Reported symptoms including pulsating or throbbing pain, light and sound sensitivity and vision changes. And while the cause of migraines is unknown, hyperactivity in parts of the brain and family history of migraines point to where they begin.

Physicians rely on reported symptoms to diagnose a migraine, and further testing such as an MRI or CT scan can help rule out other ailments.

It’s believed that a mechanism in the brain releases a pain-producing inflammatory substance around the nerves and blood vessels, according to WHO. Attacks can occur once per year or per week. The most common is once per month. For children, migraine attacks tend to be shorter but include symptoms relating to their stomachs.

Migraines are the most frequently studied type of headache and typically affect those age 35 to 45, but children and teenagers have also reported symptoms, according to the WHO.

The eight most common types of headaches, including tension-headaches, migraines and cluster headaches, are underestimated in scope and scale and remain under-recognized and under-treated, according the WHO.

Migraine symptoms

The World Health Organization suggests that 18 percent of women and 7 percent of men in the U.S. suffer from migraines. Migraines tend to run in families, according to migraine.com.

There are a large number of migraine symptoms. The most common are:

• Throbbing, pulsating pain – 85 percent

• Light sensitivity – 80 percent

• Sound sensitivity – 76 percent

• Nausea – 73 percent

• Pain on one side – 59 percent

• Vision changes, blurred vision – 44 percent

• Aura – 36 percent

• Vomiting – 29 percent

Other symptoms include:

• Sensitivity to smell

• Stiff neck

• Dizziness or dizzy spells

• Cloudy vision or other vision changes

• Weakness

Source: Migraine.com