In those who suffer from migraine headaches and seizures, anything that can help to reduce the number of attacks they have is a welcome addition. Clearly lifestyle and supplementation play a strong (if not stronger) role in the management of both migraine headaches and seizures along with the mainstream medical approach of pharmacological management. For many sufferers, this information is rarely shared by their physicians.
Before we illuminate today's brain protecting nutrient, we need to cover a little basic physiology. Those of you with very good memories will undoubtably recall that the cells of our organs are made up of a lipid bilayer. Consider our membranes as sort of a fatty moat made up of bunches of molecules that look like a head with legs. On the outsides of both sides of the moat we have the heads, which are soluble in water. The legs that dangle from the heads face toward the center of the moat, meeting each other in the center. These legs are made up of fats that do not dissolve in water.
All by itself, not much can pass through this moat. Things that dissolve in water can make it past the heads, but not the legs in the center. Things that are fat soluble can't make it past the heads to get into the moat at all. A relatively impenetrable moat.
But things still need to get in and out of the cell. The cell needs to get messages in and out, it needs nutrients in and out and things manufactured inside the cell need to get outside of the cell.
The cell does this through the use of pores embedded in the membrane. Some go all the way through the moat, some only go partway. An important factor of how well messages are transmitted, or NOT transmitted, is the health of the cell membrane. Lower quality fats (such as trans fats) will impede healthy cell communication.
On the flip side, higher amounts of healthier fats in the cell membrane ensure that messages that are supposed to be passed along are passed along. Overall, it just makes for a healthier, happier cell.
What does this mean for a condition like epilepsy? Seizures and migraine headaches can occur when a cell is not healthy enough to communicate effectively with its neighbor. This can mean that an inhibitory neuron (that shuts down its neighboring cell) may not be effective at calming a connecting cell. Or, it could mean that an individual brain cell fires before it is supposed to fire, beginning a cascade of wild messages that trigger a headache or a seizure.
A recent study in the March issue of Epilepsy and Behavior demonstrated that the fish oil DHA was able to lower seizure rates. The study was small and non-randomized, but is consistent with our understanding of what triggers seizures as well as prior studies.
Of the ten people in the study receiving 1,000 mg of DHA, 6 had a reduction in the number of seizures. One patient had a marked reduction in seizure activity. Overall, the reduction in seizure activity was 16%. Quite an accomplishment for something as safe and inexpensive as fish oils.
Of course, the big question is, why had fish oils not been a recommendation prior to this study? Even that single patient with the marked reduction in seizure activity could've had a massive impact on his or her quality of life by such a simple intervention long before this study.
Headaches are such a common ailment that many Americans perceive them as normal. More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches and of those, 28 million people suffer from migraines. Seven million Americans suffer from a headache at least every other day. A headache is the reason for approximately one-third of pain clinic visits. Even more amazing, a severe headache results in five percent of visits to a hospital emergency room. On any given day, millions of people in the U.S. look for ways to get headache relief.
Researchers and medical professionals have diagnosed 150 categories of headaches. Tension headaches, sometimes called chronic daily headaches, are the most common type among adolescents and adults. Muscles contract, causing mild to moderate pain, and these headaches frequently come and go over a prolonged period. Causes of headaches of the migraine variety are unknown, though doctors believe migraines are related to changes within the brain, including blood vessel contractions.
Migraines are often characterized by throbbing, pounding pain that ranges from moderate to severe in degree. A migraine can last from four hours to as long as three days and typically occurs between one and four times per month. Associated symptoms include nausea or vomiting, appetite loss, and sensitivity to noise, odors, or light. Children suffering from migraines may also feel dizzy, look pale, experience blurred vision, and get a fever. The condition can be so debilitating that sufferers of all ages are willing to try anything to get migraine headache relief.
People suffering from sinus headaches report a constant, deep pain in their forehead, cheekbones, or the bridge of their nose. Sudden movement of the head only intensifies this pain. Other sinus-related symptoms including fever, nasal discharge, and facial swelling often accompany these headaches. Cluster headaches are the least common primary headache types and these are characterized by intense constant or throbbing pain behind one eye or within the eye region that has a piercing or burning quality.
Depending on the type of headache being experienced, pain may be felt in the forehead, around the eyes, in the temples, or in the back of the head. While headaches of the cluster variety occur on one side of the head, other types occur on both sides. Patients may grow so accustomed to experiencing a certain type of headache that they refer to it as "normal." While headache pain may be common, it is never normal and migraine, sinus, cluster, and tension headache relief should be sought as soon as possible.
While exact causes of headaches that fall into some categories are unknown, research indicates that upper neck joints and nerves are the source of pain experienced by many common headache suffers. This area of the body is referred to as the cervical spine and the condition is referred to as a cerviogenic headache, which means "headaches coming from the neck." In its headache classification system, the National Institutes of Health classifies cerviogenic headaches as one of the five major types of headaches.
Spinal manipulations, also called spinal adjustments, are safe and effective remedies for headaches due to irritated upper neck joints and nerves. Within the U.S., Doctors of Chiropractic perform most spinal manipulations. The adjustments they perform safely and gently establish proper movement of the upper neck and its joints. Reported side effects have been few, if any, making spinal manipulation a viable alternative to medication-based headache remedies commonly used by American headache sufferers.
Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, are commonly taken to achieve stress, tension, and migraine headache relief. These medications are available without a prescription, making them easy for headache sufferers to obtain. However, they can also be quite harmful due to their side effects. Every year in the U.S., more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 16,000 die from irritation or bleeding ulcers within the stomach and gastric tract stemming from NSAID side effects.
Another difference between medications and spinal manipulations is the result of the treatment. Medications tend to mask the pain experienced by headache sufferers. Spinal adjustments are designed to correct the cause of the headache. Using spinal manipulation rather than medication treatments for headaches also has major healthcare cost-saving implications. Research conducted by one expert reveals that the U.S. healthcare system could save more than $13 billion dollars a year if chiropractic treatments primarily used as headache remedies.
Whether they are seeking migraine, stress, tension, or sinus headache relief, people should explore all available treatments. Some may come to discover that the most recommended remedies for headaches are not as beneficial as they claim to be, due to their side effects. Chiropractic manipulation represents a safe and effective treatment option.
If you are reading this, it is because you may be interested in the subject, or you may be experiencing these headaches yourself. The first thing I would like to share with you is that I know what it feels like, because I've been there for many years, struggling with my own demons breaking my head in two.
But after a lot of research, I learned much about these Migraine Headaches, enough to find the source of my own disorder.
All I can say now is that I consider myself cured from this. Of course I have some headaches sometimes, we all do, but the most important thing I made in my life was to change certain habits that were triggering these headaches, and being powered because of my life style, they were becoming really a danger to my health.
What was my trigger in particular?
Before I realized all this, I had a very stressed life, a stressful job that took me many hours almost every day with overtime hours, and in that moment I was having some issues at home. And not to count that I go to college everyday after work.
Many stressful situations, and being myself a stressed person, I was collapsing. And then I started to experience these painful Migraine Headaches.
I had almost three to four episodes every week, that lasted more than five hours or so. I often woke up at night with my skull in flames, lot of pain behind my eye-balls.
As you can see, It was becoming a really dangerous situation in my life. Of course I seek for Medical advice. And they gave me relief pills, there are tons of them to try, and depending on each person, they really work. They worked for me as well, but the problem was that, the more I took them, the less effect they were giving me.
Then I realized that I had to track the source of it, because it was not normal at all, and it was not pathological as well.
When I discovered all these triggers, I just couldn't believe it, all the information that we don't have if we don't research for it. After taking some action, it took me like six months to make a life style change that suited me better, and guess what? My migraines started to decrease considerably!
So that you already know that STRESS might be one trigger for migraines, I will share some other that are vital in every person life, like:
Diets: Diets can be a trouble if not followed correctly, and it can be as well a trigger for headaches.
Sleep: Sleeping disorders are a very common trigger for headaches, and the way we live today nowadays, it is very likely almost all of us have some problems here some times.
Sex Life: you can find this funny, but this IS a trigger. Emotional feelings are very much related to having headaches, and a mix of emotions and sex, it just can happen!
Period time: for women, same as above, feelings play their part here.
Weather: Humidity, rain, excessive heat, these are all factors that trigger headaches.
Environment: Like cigarettes, smoke, smog in suburbs, perfumes, all triggers as well.
There are more triggers, but I consider these as the most common and the most relevant for all migraine sufferers.
Many people suffer from what are believed to be sinus headaches. These are the headaches that cause discomfort and hurt over the front of the face and forehead. Some people even get sinus infections which it is felt, lead to sinus headaches. Surprisingly however, a recent study from November 2011 begs to differ. Researchers had 58 patients who clearly seemed to have sinusitis, which is a sinus irritation, examined by specialists including a neurologist and an ear, nose and throat specialist, called an otolaryngologist. The examination found that only 3 of the patients had a sinus problem. The remaining 55 did not have a sinus condition but were instead suffering from migraine and tension-type headaches.
This, of course, means that many people having headaches are being misdiagnosed and consequently treated inappropriately with antibiotics and possibly with sinus surgery. It is commonly known that antibiotic therapy has side effects: stomach and intestinal irritation, nausea and if one is allergic antibiotics, a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylactic shock. Also it has been recommended that antibiotics only be prescribed if, and only if, there is a confirmed bacterial infection. This is mainly because it has been found that bacteria are progressively becoming immune to our common antibiotics. If this trend continues, the day may come when we are unable to treat bacterial infections effectively with any medication. None of us want to return to a world where one has to be gravely worried over a small skin cut or scrape. Sinus surgery has the potential risks of complications of anesthesia and operation-caused infections.
If migraine and tension headaches are the true source of the headaches, what is to be done in the way of treatment?
Fortunately a wise choice in the treatment of headaches is chiropractic care. One research publication released in 2010 found that both migraine and tension-type headaches actually come from irritated areas in the upper bones of the neck, called vertebrae, which can irritate nerves and joints which is where the headaches originate. By using various forms of gentle, safe manipulation, chiropractic treatment is also a very cost-effective approach to helping this disabling condition. Chiropractors in the United States are licensed and regulated by the state in with they practice and take on going continuing education classes.
Instead of possible inappropriate treatment of antibiotics or surgery for sinus headaches, the treatment of choice has been found to be best performed by doctors of chiropractic.
Finding effective treatments for migraines can be challenging to say the least - but it doesn't have to drive you to the brink of insanity, nor does it require risky or potentially harmful medications or procedures.
Often, doctors will prescribe any of a variety of medications - from those that are supposed to bring relief by masking symptoms, to those that attempt to prevent the onset of a migraine episode.
There are over 100 medications that a doctor can choose from and nearly endless combinations of them. The list is ever-evolving and a migraine patient can quickly feel like they've become a prescription medicine guinea pig as they are prescribed one thing after another.
However, many of the very medications that are intended to make things better end up making things worse when you consider their side effects - and they can all pose a huge risk to one's health in a many ways.
A person taking these medications can develop rebound headaches - where the medication actually causes migraines. Not only that, if they were to discontinue taking the medications abruptly that can cause migraines as well.
Amidst all of the traditional medications that Western medicine has to offer, even the most savvy and experienced doctor can end up running out of ideas... then what can be done when that happens?
This is no way to live and certainly cannot be the only or best approach to treating migraines. Here are several other ideas, among many, that you can try:
Start by knowing what your triggers are and avoid them at all costs
Losing weight and becoming just a little more physically active can effectively ward off the next migraine episode.
Investigate whether or not you may have a gluten intolerance. Some have found that by avoiding products high in gluten have seen a significant reduction in migraines.
Oxygen has been used to treat those who experience cluster headache patients and some specialists believe it can be effective for migraine patients. Speak with your physician, neurologist, or pain specialist and perhaps they can prescribe oxygen on a trial basis to determine if it can make a difference for you.
Therapeutic massage has proven to be an effective treatment for migraines as well. Try starting with one massage every one or two weeks.
In the midst of a migraine, use ice and heat interchangeably in the areas where you feel the most pain or throbbing sensations.
Ask your doctor if you could try a TENS unit - a small battery-operated device that has sticky pads that are strategically placed on the outside of your body. The device emits gentle electrical impulses to stimulate and relax muscles in a target area.
The use of dietary supplements - such as coenzyme Q10, magnesium, or vitamin B2 - can be effective in the prevention of migraines.
Along with activating specific pressure points on your head, pinching the top of your nasal passage, temple, or behind your ear can relieve pain.
Sleeping with a buckwheat hull pillow can help you get better sleep and could support your head and neck in a way that prevents the likeliness of migraines.
Don't be afraid to try different neurologist or pain specialist. Ask your primary care physician for a referral if you suspect that a change could be beneficial.
While most sufferers consider them separate entities, migraines and seizures share many common characteristics, and the underlying problem with the cells of the brain are also similar. What contributes to or triggers a migraine headache can also trigger a seizure, such as lack of sleep, stress or skipping a meal. In the short term, both of these conditions dramatically affect quality of life. Even more concerning is what these conditions due to the brain in the long run.
Memory loss and cognitive decline are very common in migraineurs and epileptics. The progression to dementia is slow but steady. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the mere control of the condition with medication does nothing to fix the underlying problem in the brain. This merely masks the warning signs the brain is giving off as brain cells continue to become progressively more sick and dysfunctional. Multiple research studies support the idea that both epilepsy and migraines are progressive brain disorders, and some medications used to treat these conditions, have actually been shown to increase memory loss and brain damage.
For these reasons, anything that we can do to prevent this decline and protect the brain is of the utmost importance. Good thing there are some good answers. Here are 3 ideas:
1) The modified ketogenic diet is exceedingly powerful. In addition, patients who follow the diet are very likely to stay on it long term. AND, it seems to positively change the long term likelihood of having a seizure even in those who discontinue the diet.
2) GABA, or gamma-amino-butyric acid, is a very powerful neurotransmitter that calms the brain, lowering the risk of brain cells going wild and causing a migraine or seizure. Medications like Valium and Xanax act on GABA pathways. Glutamine is an amino acid that the body uses to make more GABA. Some studies have suggested that using glutamine as a supplement can help calm the brain.
3) Melatonin is a hormone produced deep in the brain by the pineal gland. It's production is shut down by sunlight hitting the retina, thus regulating our sleeping cycle to daylight hours. But in recent years, the power of melatonin to protect the brain has been brought to light (so to speak...). One of melatonin's benefits is as a potent antioxidant that can protect the brain.
A study in the March Epilepsy and Behavior journal further confirms the potential benefit of melatonin on patients suffering with migraines and seizures.
Researchers looked at the effect of melatonin on seizures in rats when the melatonin was given before the seizures. While it had no effect when given after a seizure, there was a benefit on the behavior and memory of the rats who were given melatonin prior to a seizure.
While this is an animal study, given prior research along these lines on the benefits of melatonin, I would not consider it a great stretch to apply this study to a person suffering with migraines and seizures.
A side note on melatonin usage: I have had many patients who start with dosages as high as 10 grams. I am unsure why they would start that high unless it was based on recommendations from wherever the supplement was purchased. I will usually start a patient on.5 mg and, if needed, work up to 3 mg, but will rarely go past this dosage. Too high of a dose can induce nightmares and lead to excessive grogginess in the morning.
Have you noticed how you get a headache and a feeling of disorientation when you travel from one part of the globe to another? Say the trip is from a Western country to an Asian one. Upon your arrival, you are likely to feel fatigue and even a mild sense of depression. In some cases, you would even become irritable and groggy. You can also develop diarrhea or its counterpart constipation. Or, you may also suffer from a temporary bout of insomnia.
All of these symptoms are indicative of a jet lag. Known in the medical field as desynchronosis, jet lag is classified all the same as a physiological condition, a mental state and a sleeping disorder. But as a whole, the condition refers to the way your body reacts when it is exposed to a change in time zones. For example, if you leave from Paris on your way to New York, chances are your biological clock is still attuned to the Parisian time. So when you get to New York, which is 6 hours behind the Parisian clock, your body's sleeping pattern and physiological orientation is disrupted.
Medical researchers have attributed to jet lag most of the immunity problems that are experienced by travelers. Immunity problem refers to your susceptibility to be affected by a number of infections. This is because your biological clock helps in the production of a particular type of protein that in turn aids in the detection of harmful bacteria.
Another effect of jet lag is a disturbance in your sleeping pattern. When you travel from one place to another, and effectively cross time zones, your body adapts to a change in climate, temperature level and the surrounding noise. This is why most people who are jet-lagged tend to experience difficulty in falling asleep easily in the new place. This is not to mention the hours you spend awake even if your body already tells you that it should be resting at that time-just because your surroundings are still very much alive.
Finally, jet lag's symptoms affect your social and physiological functions. As your sleeping pattern suffers and your symptoms continue to bother, you would find it more difficult to communicate with people around you as well as perform different tasks that involve physical and mental well-being.
However, you need not worry because as in most conditions, jet lag lasts only for a few days until you have adjusted to your surroundings. If you always experience jet lag, better consult a doctor first before your travel to get the best advice to prevent jet lag.
Migraines can be mild or severe. When it's mild, you will find the pain to be more of an annoyance. When it's severe, it can affect your focus and concentration and often times, you will find it hard to perform at work.
Many people are affected by migraine headaches every now and then. Fortunately, the pain is usually temporary and goes away after some time. Here are some recommended remedies that you can try to get some quick relief.
Tip 1: Proper rest. Sometimes, stress can be the primary cause of migraine headaches. If you have been under a lot of stress lately and you are starting to get migraine headaches, the first thing you should do is to stop your work and get some proper rest. That means taking the day off. No more phone calls and no more meetings. Take a warm bath and lie down. If you can, nap for a while. If not, simply keep your eyes shut and mediate.
Tip 2: A little massage goes a long way. Get someone to give you a head massage for instant relief. Do not underestimate the effectiveness of a massage. Of course, since you are feeling pain, whoever doing the massage should do it gently. The goal is to stimulate blood circulation and promote healing. In addition, a quick massage gives you a short break from work, which may be exactly what you need to get relief from migraine headaches. If no one else is around you, just stop whatever you are doing and give yourself a head massage. It can be just as effective.
Tip 3: Applying medicated oil. Oils like peppermint have been known to relief pain and aches. They are usually applied externally on areas where the pain is felt. Applying the oil has the same effect as giving a massage. You are essentially using oils to promote blood circulation. The gentle rubbing movements of the fingers also create heat, which can also help relief pain.
Tip 4: Drink lots of plain, cool water! Sometimes, migraine can be caused by over-exposure to heat. You may not notice this consciously when you are in the sun. When you get back home, you start to feel pain in your head. This is a sign that you are dehydrated. To prevent this from happening, always drink water regularly. You should be extra mindful of your hydration on warm days. On warm days, due to the heat, your body loses water a lot quicker than normal. When the body starts to weaken, that is when migraine headaches set in.
Tip 5: Compression techniques. There are people who recommend using vegetable and fruit paste to apply on the head. While there is no scientific evidence supporting these techniques, there may be some truth in these recommendations. These methods probably work because of the pressure you apply on the painful areas.
Migraine headaches are both treatable and preventable. As a general rule of thumb, drink more water, get plenty of rest, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly. That should keep the headaches at bay.
One of the reasons you may be experiencing more headaches at certain times of the year is due to the amount of pollen in your area. Pollen is a powder that contains seed plants that is part of nature's reproductive cycle. Unfortunately for us, this may disturb our sinuses, creating inflammation that leads to pressure because of swelling of the membranes in the lining of these cavities. Pain may occur because air, puss and mucus may be trapped in the sinus area.
As usual, there is a lot of controversy as to what constitutes a true sinus headache. Some say a sinus headache has to be part of the symptoms associated with sinusitis. This is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses from infection, allergy and sometimes may be part of autoimmune issues. Most headaches have a sinus-related component such as runny eyes and nose and pain in the sinus area. Migraines, in particular are known to bring on sinus symptoms.
The one thing to pay attention to is the color of the mucus - if it is clear or slightly milky looking there is probably no need for concern. If it is darker in color it may be part of a bigger problem. In this case, making an appointment with your health care practitioner would be a good idea.
So, enough of all these facts…. You're probably wondering what you can do about your sinus-related headaches. I've got some ideas I'd like to share based on feedback from my massage clients and the regular research I do on headaches and health in general.
-Don't bend over forward if you don't have to. This seems to worsen symptoms.
-Get rest, keeping your head elevated.
-Put an essential oil such as eucalyptus or peppermint on your palms and rub together. Then slightly cup your hands and bring them up in front of your face (about 2-3" away) and just breathe deeply for a few minutes.
-You can also take those same oils and put a few drops in a pot of steaming water. Then drape a towel around it to hold in the moisture and put your head underneath the towel. Breathing in the moist air with the oils will help drain the sinuses. It works better when you use oils but if you don't have any you can just use steaming water.
-Try using a neti pot. You can purchase one at most health food stores. Irritants such as pollens are washed away with nasal irrigation. It also increases drainage by shrinking sinus membranes.
-Drink warm or hot fluids as these also increase drainage, loosening congestion. One tea that is especially beneficial is fresh ginger tea. After boiling the water let the cut up ginger steep for a few minutes then drink.
-Eating spicy foods, especially jalapenos, can also increase drainage.
-Something else you can try is to alternate hot and cold compresses either on the top of the head or directly on the sinus area. Of course, you need to make sure you don't burn or freeze your face where the skin may be more reactive.
-Squeeze along the eyebrows with your thumb and the side of your pointer finger. When you get to the area just under the eyebrow where it meets the top of where it goes down into the nose you will find a sensitive spot. Press up into this area with your thumb as it will help release sinus pressure.
-Run your pointer fingers down the side of the bridge of the nose and out and under the cheekbone. When you get to the nostrils press deeply in here from both sides. You will also find a tender spot just about in the middle under the cheekbone arch- it's about in line with the pupil. Press deeply on his spot and you may actually feel a release in sinus and/or headache pain.
So, now you have a few ideas for home treatment of headaches that seem to be brought on by sinus irritation. And of course, sinus problems, as mentioned earlier, may be just one component of the myriad of symptoms you experience when you get a headache. Whether you have a true sinus headache or are just experiencing pressure in this area, the above suggestions may help.
Paying attention to your body during pollen season is just one more step in becoming Headache Free & Naturally
Everyone gets a headache at some point in his or her life but dealing with chronic headaches can be a very stressful and debilitating condition. Caused by so many different things, it can be difficult to determine the exact source, making curing them nearly impossible in some cases. Symptoms and activities before, during and after such an attack are at times the only way to determine their cause, effect and treatment.
Chronic headaches can be caused by certain behavior or actions that allow stress to tighten the muscles of the neck, shoulders and back, leading to stress headaches developing. These will occur every time the stressful situation occurs, becoming almost psychological in its frequency and intensity. Being around certain foods or chemicals can cause headaches for hours afterwards, with the patient never realizing that their presence was the cause. Testing for allergies would then be the first step to treat that type of headache.
Physical ailments can also have headaches as its main symptom, as well as its potential cause. Someone that has suffered an injury to an arm or leg can begin to unconsciously tailor their movements so that they avoid triggering any pain associated with that injury and in doing so, put added stress onto joints and muscles while compensating that normally would not have happened. This can lead to spinal maladjustment or a pinched nerve, resulting in severe cervical pain and headaches from the physical stress.
People known to abuse substances like alcohol and drugs will often develop severe headaches when they try to abstain, because the chemical they have become dependent on are no longer present, causing the body to feel as if it is starving, with headaches becoming the prevalent symptom.
A continuing problem when it comes to diagnosing headaches is treating it with pain medications without uncovering the true source of the pain. This can lead to too much dependence on the medication, without having any true effect of the condition. One way to avoid misdiagnosis is for the patient to keep a headache journal during treatment, so that the doctor can see everything that occurred in their lives before the attack, how long it lasted and what the patient did immediately afterwards that did not bring on another attack. This can be especially helpful when the headache is actually brought on by what can be termed allergic triggers or when something within their regular routines may be contributing to their illness, like stress or psychological traumas.
The only effective treatments for chronic headaches will be those that eliminate or solve the root cause of the problem. For stressful situations that bring on headaches, relaxation techniques, for example, will have more of an effect on the headache than prescribed medication. Lifestyle changes can make allergy based headaches a thing of the past, while chiropractic treatments will remove the physical condition causing the headache to occur. At its heart, the only true treatment for this condition is honest dialogue between doctor and patient.
Most people view headaches as a condition and use medication to treat their aching head. The truth is that more than 90 percent of the time, a headache is a symptom of the true condition that should be addressed. The body uses the ache to tell the brain that something is wrong. Medication simply masks the pain and can have harmful side-effects. True headache relief usually requires addressing the origin of the pain, which is often the upper neck.
Data from the National Headache Foundation reveals that more than 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches. Adults are not the only sufferers, as approximately 20 percent of children and adolescents experience significant headaches. The most common headaches experienced by children, adolescents and adults are called tension headaches and are due to muscle contraction.
Many experts believe that neck muscles and tissues cause cervicogenic headaches. When these muscles spasm, the pain travels to the head, rather than being experienced in the neck. "Cervicogenic" means that the pain is caused by an issue within the cervical section of the spine, also called the neck. A whiplash injury is a common cause but trauma or injury is not the sole cause of this type of headache. Anything that irritates neck muscles or the cervical portion of the spin can be the cause.
Cervicogenic headaches are one of the five primary types of headaches in the National Institutes of Health classification system. They originate from neck disorders, including anatomical structures innervated by the C1 to C3 cervical roots. These headaches are often caused by a prolonged period of awkward positioning of the head or some type of neck movement. Arm, shoulder, or neck pain or restricted range of motion in the cervical area often accompanies the headache.
There are no dedicated scans or neurological, laboratory, or orthopedic tests for diagnosing a headache. A headache is classified as a clinical diagnosis, meaning that it is based on knowledge obtained through physical examination and medical history. In the under ten percent of cases that are due to disease, an MRI or other test is used to determine the cause. However, the majority of people suffering from headaches are accurately diagnosed by a thorough case history.
A cervicogenic headache is similar to a tension or a migraine headache, making it difficult to diagnose. In fact, this type of headache can lead to other types including cluster, stress, tension, or migraine. A conventional treatment such as medication does not usually provide relief. Overuse of medication can even cause a rebound headache. This is a reaction to toxicity in the body created by taking too many pain relievers. For successful cervicogenic headache treatment to occur, the source of the pain must be identified.
The neck region contains approximately 20 muscles, providing numerous opportunities for issues. Neck muscles in spasm sometimes restrict areas through which nerves pass, resulting in irritation, pain, and in extreme cases, loss of functioning. A typical symptom of a cervicogenic headache is pain originating at the base of the neck and moving into the head. At the onset, the base of the neck may be tender to touch. Moving the head or neck can worsen the headache.
A cervicogenic headache does not usually cure itself so treatment should be obtained for headache relief. Treatment many times involves chiropractic techniques such as spinal manipulation. There is strong evidence supporting chiropractic spinal manipulation for treatment of cervicogenic headaches. The February 2010 issue of The Spine Journal included a study that provided supporting evidence and research that chiropractors have the education, training and skills to treat those people suffering from headaches.
Many people suffer from tension headaches. In fact, four percent of the adult United States population have headaches on a daily basis. Approximately 7 million people suffer from headaches at least every other day, which translates into millions of lost workdays and severely impacts work efficiency.
In medical terms, a stress or tension headache is called a cervicogenic headache which means it originates with irritated nerves and joints in the upper neck, and refers pain into the head.
There is much research and anecdotal evidence that chiropractic care can help headaches. This article will describe a typical first visit to a chiropractor to determine if a patient can be helped by chiropractic therapy, or if the patient would best be seen by another health practitioner.
As with all visits to a doctor you will be asked to give some written information. This information will allow you to detail when your headaches originally began, how often the headaches occur, how the headaches vary in pain intensity, what other doctors and specialists you have seen, and any diagnostic testing you have previously had.
Next, you will meet with the chiropractor so that you can talk further about your headaches. He will want to know in which areas of your head you feel the pain. For instance, some people get headaches in the back of the head, where others get pain in the side of the head or around the temples. Still others get pain in the forehead or around the eyes or frontal sinuses. The doctor of chiropractic will want to know if anything triggers or causes your headaches to begin. Examples of this would be: fatigue, stress, posture, work station set-up, certain foods, and weather or environmental factors. It will be helpful for the chiropractor to know if you have had loss or disturbance of vision or hearing, weakness, or loss of consciousness. The chiropractor will ask of there is anything you do on your own to help your headaches such as take medication, use ice or heat applications or rub an ointment or cream on specific areas. It is always helpful to know how your headaches might keep you from being able to sleep normally, perform chores in the yard or at home, do your usual job and employment duties, enjoy social activities, sports, or hobbies.
Next, the chiropractor will want to check you physically. Palpation, or feeling the upper neck, might reveal muscle tightness or spasm, swelling and inflammation, and pressure points of tenderness. Checking for proper movements of the head and neck might show a loss of the normal range of motion of the neck. Looking at your posture might show that a "slouched" upper body appearance may be causing or contributing to your discomfort. There are neurological tests and orthopedic tests that the chiropractor has been thoroughly trained in that will be helpful in rendering a diagnosis.
Following this, the chiropractor may take x-rays of your neck which might show signs of misalignment, degeneration, or arthritis. The chiropractor will also inspect for fractures, dislocations or bone destruction.
Once these steps have been accomplished, the chiropractor can determine a diagnosis and be able to give you a good idea if your condition is one in which he might be able to help, and accept your case.
Many people suffering from headaches have responded well to chiropractic therapy. If you have seen other doctors and tried other types of care but have not seen a chiropractor for you headaches, it is certainly a prudent next step. If the chiropractor can help you, he will let you know. If he can't, he will tell you that also and make an appropriate referral to someone else.
Knowing what causes your headaches is an important step in treating them. It is a good idea to first have a physical examination to make sure you are in good health.
There are many reasons why people suffer with headaches. Take an active role in assessing your particular causes by playing a detective-type role. Below are some of the main contributors to headaches to help you get started in your investigation.
-Some people have a genetic predisposition to headaches. If this is so, other family members will also experience headaches.
-The way we were brought up can play a significant role in our health due to learned habits of coping or caring for ourselves. All kinds of physical problems, including headaches, can manifest if one has been brought up in an abusive family situation.
-Medications can play a part in the development of headaches. Be sure to ask your doctor if headache pain can be a side effect of any medications you are on.
-Dietary factors are another consideration. Sometimes people are successful in eliminating certain foods, one at a time, to see if their headaches stop or are less frequent. You may also be tested for food allergies.
-Psychological problems such as repressed emotions, depression, fear, anger and stress can lead to headaches.
-Physical disturbances in the body such as digestive problems or nutritional deficiencies can lead to headaches. Again, consult your health care practitioner.
-Environmental factors play a large role in the development of headaches. These include weather changes, chemicals or certain odors, to name a few.
-Hormone imbalances may be another consideration. This is another good reason to see your health care practitioner.
-When the structure of the body is not functioning properly it can lead to tightening of muscles, bringing on headaches. Also, problems with the cervical spine can lead to intracranial pressure causing headaches. Other structural problems could cause pinched nerves or blocked flow of fluids, both potentially leading to headaches. Structural problems should be evaluated by your health care practitioner, especially your chiropractor or osteopath.
-Lifestyle factors such as disturbances of sleep patterns and other poor health care are considerations in the management of headaches.
Please note- you may experience headaches due to multiple causes and there may be other reasons, not noted here.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms please consult your doctor immediately- -sudden changes in the severity of your headaches -changes in your memory, personality, behavior or consciousness -changes in your vision or ability to walk -if you are experiencing headaches constantly with no relief -if you are experiencing weakness, numbness, loss of senses, seizures, unexplained fever or fever with a stiff neck or rash, breathing problems, a sore throat or respiratory infection -if your headache came on after coughing, straining, exertion or injury
Hopefully this compilation of possible causes will help you uncover the reasons you experience headaches so that you can become "Headache Free & Naturally."
A silent migraine can be induced by various causes including different types of foods. Being able to identify these foods and avoiding its consumption can provide the sufferer a long-term relief against the condition. Some of the foods that you have to watched out for include the following:
* Fruits, Pickles and Legumes: among all types of foods that can trigger migraine attacks, legumes are considered as the primary culprit of the condition. Certain types of beans including Lima, fava, garbanzo, pole, navy, Italian and pinto beans can all trigger the condition. Aside from that, pickles and other fermented foods can also trigger the attacks. Notice the effects of kimchi, sauerkraut, raw garlic, olives and onions after consuming it. There are certain fruits that can also stimulate silent migraine episodes. Consumption of papaya, figs, prunes, overripe bananas and avocados can trigger an attack.
* Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages: all forms of alcoholic beverages, particularly red wine can trigger a silent migraine attack. You can conduct an experiment by testing each type of alcoholic drink to see how it affects your condition. You will surely find at least one type of alcoholic drink that can trigger the attacks and make sure that you avoid this next time. Some individuals also experience the condition after consuming caffeinated drinks. To determine if this too can trigger an attack, you can reduce its consumption or consume it alternately to see how it affects your silent migraine condition.
* Chocolate: this is also considered as the main trigger factor of the problem. Take note that chocolate contains various chemicals. Although some of these contents can actually soothe the condition, some can exacerbate the symptoms of the condition. If consuming chocolates trigger attacks, it would be best to avoid its consumption or take note of the particular type of chocolate that causes silent migraine symptoms and exclude it from your list of considerable chocolates.
* Aged Cheese: aged cheese is considered as the most reactive trigger factor for almost all types of migraine conditions. Experts believe that the older the cheese, the more problem it can cause to the condition. Cheese contains a chemical known as tyramine, which is associated to the development of various kinds of migraine problems. The longer the cheese is aged, the more tyrosine is contained. Tyrosine can also contribute to the elevation of blood pressure. The aged cheeses that should be avoided include Stilton, Gouda, brick, blue, brie, gruyere, camembert, parmesan, Romano, provolone and cheddar. Certain types of cheeses also contain MSG, which can result to various symptoms such as Muenster, Roquefort, processes cheese slices and feta.
Taking note of these and avoiding its consumption can greatly help you prevent silent migraine attacks and alleviate its symptoms. Remember that although the condition is not accompanied with headache, it can still be considered as a debilitating condition, especially in case of severe aura or visual problems. If you are experiencing extreme symptoms of the condition, it would be best to consult your physician for proper diagnosis and relief for the condition.