A migraine is usually an intense pounding headache that can last for hours or even days. The pounding or pulsing pain usually begins in the forehead, the side of the head, or around the eyes. The headache gradually gets worse. Just about any movement, activity, bright light, or loud noise seems to make it hurt more. Nausea and vomiting are common during a migraine.
Migraines may happen only once or twice a year or as often as daily. Women are more likely to have migraines than men.
There are different types of migraine headaches. The most common types of migraines are classic migraines and common migraines.
Symptoms of Migraine
Symptoms of migraine tend to occur in stages:
Before the headache: According to the research, people with migraine experience symptoms that start hours or days before the headache.
At this stage, a person might experience a “prodrome,” which may involve emotional changes, specifically depression and irritability. A prodrome can also include yawning, dizziness, thirst, frequent urination, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Sometimes an aura can occur. This involves physical or sensory symptoms, such as flashing lights in the field of vision.
During the headache: Alongside a mild to severe, throbbing or pulsing headache, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, neck pain, dizziness, and nasal congestion.
Resolution: After the headache, tiredness and irritability may last another two days. This is sometimes called the “migraine hangover.”
Other common features of migraine are:
head pain that worsens during physical activity or straining
an inability to perform regular activities due to the pain
increased sensitivity to light and sound that can sometimes be relieved by lying quietly in a darkened room
Other symptoms may include sweating, feeling unusually hot or cold, a stomachache, and diarrhea.
What Causes Migraines?
The exact cause of migraines isn’t known. Scientists think that they happen because some neurons (nerves in the brain) stop working properly and send the wrong signals. This may affect the nervous system that regulates pain.
Whatever the cause, experts agree that different things trigger (set off) migraines in people who have them.
Common migraine triggers include:
- changes in hormone levels, such as from periods or birth control pill use
- skipping meals
- too much caffeine or withdrawal from caffeine (suddenly having less caffeine than usual)
- some foods (alcohol, cheese, citrus fruits, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, etc.)
- sudden changes in sleep patterns
- weather changes
How prevalent are migraines?
The most common cause of recurring, disabling headache pain, migraines, are also the most common underlying cause of disabling chronic, daily headache pain. Migraines are about three times more common in women than men and may affect more than 12 percent of the U.S. adult population. Migraines often run in families and start as early as elementary school but often in early adulthood. They often fade away later in life but can strike at any time. While migraines are the No. 1 reason patients see a neurologist, most cases are handled by primary care physicians.
Treatment of migraine
There is no cure for migraine, and prevention is difficult, but treatments can help reduce the number of attacks. Migraines vary greatly from person to person, and so does the treatment.
The four treatment options available to migraine sufferers include:
avoiding the trigger factors – this can be difficult since a combination of factors often triggers migraines
medication – including pain-relieving medication and medication to alter the pressure on blood vessels
preventative treatment – medication is taken daily to reduce the number of attacks
Non-medication therapies – include acupuncture, biofeedback, goggles, hypnotherapy, exclusion diets, relaxation, yoga, meditation, and herbal or homeopathic remedies.
In the past, pethidine was used to treat migraine. However, this is a highly addictive medication, and far more effective treatments are now available. Talk to your doctor or a neurologist about the best treatment for your migraines.
How Helpfull Is Physiotherapy for Headaches?
Physiotherapy can help headaches! Treatment of stiffness and tension in the joints and muscles has been shown to help with migraines and tension-type headaches and reduce the need for medication. If your headaches originate from your neck (Cervicogenic Headaches), this is where physiotherapy can excel.
The treatment of any headache commences with an expert assessment and differential diagnosis of the source of your symptoms. From this point, there are lots of treatments your physiotherapist can offer. We are manual therapy advocates in our clinic and will incorporate ‘hands-on’ manual and manipulative therapy into your treatment. We will also work on stretching and massaging the muscles around your neck and suggest some management exercises.
It is also important to consider the treatment of your headaches as a team. We can liaise with your GP to discuss the diagnosis and request medication; we will encourage physical exercise and can offer in-house personal training. In addition, we may draw on the expertise of our extended teams, such as acupuncture or massage therapy. In some cases, we may have to liaise with your dentist as bruxism or jaw (TMJ) pain can exacerbate headache symptoms.
What to Expect from Physiotherapy Treatment for Headaches?
You can expect a thorough subjective examination and history-taking to determine your exact diagnosis in the initial assessment.
At the end of this session, we will give you a clear explanation of your condition and an evidence-backed treatment program tailored specifically to your needs to get you where you need to be. If we cannot help with your headache and migraines, we will provide you with a suitable referral.
We specialize in providing effective long-term headache and migraine treatment solutions and physiotherapy and Pilates treatments for other body pains.