Migraine – a neurological disease

According to the International istock_migraine2Headache Society, and as stated by Headache Australia, one can be classified as suffering from a migraine when over a period of 4-72hrs the following occurs (1):

Pain classification: (minimum of 2)
– one sided
– moderate to severe
– throbbing
– aggravated by movement

Concomitant symptoms: (minimum of 1)
– nausea
– vomiting
– photophobia (sensitivity to light)
– phonophobia (sensitivity to sound)
– osmophobia (sensitivity to smell)

More concomitant symptoms:
– aura (visual disturbances such as bright zigzag lines, flashing lights, difficulty in focusing or blind spots lasting 20-45 minutes)
– difficulty in concentrating, confusion
– a feeling of being generally extremely unwell
– problems with articulation or co-ordination
– diarrhoea
– stiffness of the neck and shouldes,
– tingling, pins and needles or numbness or even one-sided limb (1).

There are many different types of migraines and they are not entirely understood in the medical world. What is being discovered is that they are not all just exacerbated tension-type headaches. Migraines are a neurological disease that can involve the over-activity of the trigeminal nerve.

The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve, which has 3 branches to innervate the face (in general terms, one to cover the forehead area, one to cover the area across the nose and between the temples, and the last one to cover the lower jaw). All 3 branches of the trigeminal nerve are sensory but the 3rd is also involved in motor function. The mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve is responsible for the motor activity of the muscles of chewing, talking, and also for the tympanic membrane in the ear. If the trigeminal nerve is overactive or has pressure placed on it, it can cause migraines – huge facial pain, pain behind the eyes, temples and so on.

The current medical approach is to attempt to inhibit the trigeminal nerve with intense drugs or invasive surgical techniques. We as chiropractors view this as a last resort and believe that if your body is not in correct alignment then signals from your nervous system may not be communicated properly. Ie. If you have a full functioning nervous system then your body should be able to inhibit these signals itself. If you have poor posture then it is likely that your nervous system is not functioning as well as it could or should.

Current research shows that the chiropractic spinal adjustment can reset muscle behaviour patterns by sending signals to the brain via the nervous system (2). And by stimulating the nervous system the chiropractic adjustment can improve the function of the whole body (2).

If you suffer from migraines it is recommended that you visit your local chiropractor and have your posture assessed. The Spine and Health Chiropractors are the experts in pain and posture and have the ability to conduct a Digital Postural Analysis in their Crows Nest or North Sydney clinics. In doing so they will be able to establish if you have a postural issue that may be the cause of any pain you are feeling. Together you can construct an action plan to give you symptomatic relief, improve your posture and overall well-being. To look better, move better, feel better contact the team today.

Crows Nest                Ph 9460 8459
North Sydney            Ph 9955 8055 

 

(1) Headache Australia
(2) Haavik Taylor H and Murphy B. (2007). World Federation of Chiropractic’s 9th Biennial Congress Award Winning Paper (3rd Prize): Altered sensorimotor integration with cervical spine manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, in press.