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Treating Migraines without Drugs

migrainesIt’s estimated that nearly one in every ten people in Australia suffer from migraines, making of them one of the most widely diagnosed neurological conditions.  The exact cause of migraines is not known, but experts point to unhealthy lifestyles that include poor diet, persistent stress, pollution, and irregular schedules.

Some migraine sufferers are able to identify and avoid specific migraine triggers, including bright lights, noise, smoke, perfumes, hormone fluctuations, certain foods such as chocolate, nuts, dairy products and fermented foods, and food additives such as MSG, nitrates, and tyramine.  Recognizing and avoiding triggers can help reduce the frequency of migraines, but not eliminate them, as they often occur in the absence of a trigger.

Migraines are typically classified as with or without aura, though this system of classification tends to underplay the variety of symptoms that can accompany an episode.  The aura is a sensory disturbance experienced by many sufferers.  Disturbances are typically visual, though any of the senses may be affected.  Disturbances include blind spots, flashing lights, zigzag patterns, tunnel vision, ringing in the ears, phantom smells or tastes, numbness, tingling, weakness, or lack of coordination.  When the aura is involved, it typically shows up less than an hour before the headache and fades as the headache sets in.

The migraine without aura is just what it sounds like, a migraine that occurs without sensory disturbances.  The headache phase of the migraine can last several hours up to as long as three days.  A little over half of all migraine sufferers experience the headache on one side of the head, while the rest experience the headache on both sides.  Most migraine sufferers experience a variety of symptoms with the headache, including nausea, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to light, noise, and movement.

With all of these symptoms, it’s no wonder that many migraine sufferers are desperate to find relief and frequently turn to over the counter or prescription medication.  While medication does help some sufferers in the short term, medication isn’t always effective, has potential unpleasant side effects, and doesn’t treat the underlying cause of migraines.  Those who suffer from frequent migraines risk overusing medication, which causes them to be less effective and the user to become dependent on the medication.  In severe cases, overuse of medication can even cause long term health problems, including kidney and liver damage.

The good news is there are a number of alternative treatment options that can offer lasting relief with few or no side effects, and without the toxicity of medication.  Some patients even report not having a migraine for months after treatment.

One of these alternative treatment options is chiropractic care.  While the exact mechanism that causes migraines is not yet fully understood, gentle manipulation of the spine seems to treat the underlying causes, offering long term relief from migraines, with some patients reporting no episodes for months after treatment, and many patients needing less or no medication.

Chiropractic can be safely combined with other alternative treatments, including:

  • Acupuncture or acupressure – Also proven by research to help reduce the severity and frequency of attacks.
  • Meditation, relaxation, biofeedback, or cognitive therapy – Stress is a common migraine trigger, so learning to lower stress levels can reduce migraine pain.
  • Exercise – Working out releases endorphins known to both ease pain and lower stress.
  • Diet – Eliminating dietary triggers can reduce, though not necessarily eliminate, migraines.
  • Hydration – Flush out toxins that may be contributing to migraines by drinking plenty of water.

If you’re looking for a better way to deal with your migraines than medication, call Eastern Chiropractic now on 9857 4503 to arrange an appointment to find out how we can help ease your suffering.