I don’t know about you but I have had two migraines in my life and they totally
knocked me for six. One was when I was travelling through Asia and I
became very dehydrated from heat and lack of salt. The other was when I was
pregnant with my son. I have no idea what caused that one but it was
excruciating. I had to get my daughter who was two at the time to bring me
the phone so I could call a neighbor to come to the rescue. I couldn’t move
without vomiting from the pain! I can’t imagine how hard it must be for
people who get frequent migraines.
I know that there are a number of things that might trigger a migraine and
often it’s a combination of certain triggers that cause it. They can be
triggered by stress, poor posture or tension in the neck and shoulders,
certain foods or drinks – commonly chocolate, cheese, alcohol or caffeine,
bright or flickering lights, certain smells, not drinking enough fluid
or skipping meals etc. My question is… why do those things trigger a
migraine in some people and not in others?
One of the interesting things about migraines is that they tend to occur after a
stressful event has passed. Migraines are also known as “vascular headaches”
because one symptom is a sudden dilating of the blood vessels to the head and neck.
This can happen when you start to relax after the blood vessels have been constricted
because of stress. A migraine might strike on a Friday night or the beginning of a holiday.
Or it could happen at any time. When the blood vessels dilate too much an
inflammatory response occurs creating pain and throbbing.
Migraine sufferers have often done everything under the sun to get
relief. They might have tried everything from meditation to medication
with little or no sustained benefit. I recently came across an approach to
treating migraines that has been clinically proven to be safe and effective for
those who are prepared to follow the format. This approach really
appealed to my belief in the mind-body connection and the power of natural
therapies. Just as migraines have a combination of
causes, it appears that it can be helpful to have a combination
of therapies to prevent them.
The part of the nervous system that controls this constriction and dilation of
blood vessels is the autonomic nervous system. In the past, the functioning of
the autonomic nervous system was thought to be beyond our conscious
control. This is the part that controls all the automatic functions of our body
like digestion, heart rate, metabolism and blood pressure, and the fight
and flight response etc. Studies with biofeedback have shown that we can
learn to consciously control some of these functions. This is called autogenic
training. I learned about auotgenic training many years ago as part of my
Hypnotherapy course and believe it or not, with training, we can even
learn to constrict and dilate certain blood vessels. That could come in
very handy if you want to prevent a migraine.
Now, although tension headaches and migraines are different, migraine
suffererers typically hold tension in the neck and shoulders. Muscle
tension can be measured in microvolts and a normal reading for the top of the
shoulders is 1.5 mv. One young girl with migraines reported that she wasn’t
aware of holding any tension in her shoulders. Her reading however was 15
microvolts! Ten times normal. Bringing muscle tension in the
neck, shoulders and jaw back to normal is an important part of treating
migraines. Massage or acupuncture or a combination of both are part of our
new program to bring relief to migraine sufferers. We are currently looking for
10 people who suffer from migraines so we can conduct a trial of our
“Migraine Free in 10 Weeks” program. This program also includes
self-hypnosis, autogenic training and stress management. Please email us
if you are interested in finding out more about this program.
Headaches and Migraines
by Anne-Mare Hone,
What can you expect when you come into the clinic with recurrent and
chronic pain in the head?
As a TCM practitioner I investigate general causes such as how much
tension you may be experiencing from trigger points in the neck and upper body,
what drugs/caffeine/or food you consume, how exposed you are to occupational
and environmental toxins/chemicals, if there is an underlying or lingering
infection, and also your emotional health. Frustration, anger and worry are
important elements in ongoing heachache, as is overwork of the mental kind,
involving sitting at a computer for long hours. This last factor
particularly increases postural stresses.
The nature, time and position of the headaches will be discussed to determine
what acupuncture protocol will give best results. For example you may have
a stabbing pain in the evening or at night in around the temples, sides of
the head or behind the eyes. We will often find referred pain from the jaw or
neck and shoulder muscles and points on the acupuncture meridians (eg
Gallbladder, Stomach, Small Instestine and Liver). READ MORE
Have a fabulous headache free week,
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03 9842 7033
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