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Delta Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation in Bury

Migraines…more than just a headache

woman with migraine

Most people at some point in their life have experienced a headache of some kind and can take a couple of paracetamol and it goes, but not everyone will have the experience of suffering with a migraine. The NHS reports that “migraines affect 6 million people in the UK” with women experiencing than more than men, the National Migraine Centre reporting that it “affects around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 12 men”.

Migraines can be very debilitating and affect a person’s quality of life physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.  Statistics from The Work Foundation estimated that migraine sufferers take between 28 million and 43 million days off word each year due to the impact of migraines. The Migraine Trust also highlight the negative impact on mental wellbeing, their research has shown that 78% of respondents of one of their studies reported that their mental health was affected.

These are some heavy statistics, but with more research being undertaken and more treatment options available there is more hope for migraine sufferers that they can find an effective treatment to managing this condition.

So what is a migraine?

 

A migraine is not just a severe headache. It’s a neurological condition that often comes with a throbbing, pulsating pain on one or both sides of the head. Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days and can be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise or smells and experience in visual changes. These symptoms can vary in severity for each person.

Types of migraines:

 

  1. Migraine without Aura: This is the most common type. It involves moderate to severe headache pain without any warning signs.
  2. Migraine with Aura: Some people experience “auras” before or during a migraine. These auras are usually visual disturbances, like flashing lights or zigzag lines. Some people experience migraine aura without the headache.
  3. Episodic migraines:  These attacks are infrequent which affect around 90% of cases according to the The National Migraine Centre.
  4. Chronic migraines: A person is diagnosed with chronic migraine if they suffer attacks for more than 15 days each month.
The different stages of a migraine

 

There have now been 4 stages of a migraine attack identified, though not everyone will experience all four stages.

Stage 1: This is the prodrome stage and occurs before the headache symptom has started and can start hours or days before. At this stage the sufferer may experience sensitivity to light, smells, particular food cravings and  will experience an increase in yawning.

Stage 2: Aura is the next stage, although not all people will experience auras. If they do, at this stage they may experience visual disturbances which can include zigzags, patterns and they may also experience numbness and dizziness.

Stage 3: At this stage typically a thumping pain or pressure in head or neck is present, which can last for hours or days.

Stage 4: The final stage is the recovery. Following a migraine, recovery can take a day or, sometimes two, to recover and some people experience tiredness, feeling generally unwell and can suffer a lack of concentration.

What causes a migraine?

 

It is thought that migraine is “the result of abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain according to The Migraine Trust. The cause of this activity is not fully known but experts are lead to believe it is likely to be genetic, reports the National Migraine Centre.

Migraine Triggers

 

Migraines can be very difficult to manage but for some sufferers they become aware of certain triggers that impact them.

Some common triggers can include skipping meals, becoming dehydrated, stress, hormonal changes for women around their menstrual cycle, and changes in the weather.

Treatment

 

By making lifestyle choices to reduce the impact of potential triggers, such as establishing a good sleeping routine, maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated and managing stress can have a positive impact.

Alongside doing that there are a range of medication options that a GP, Consultant or Migraine Centre can prescribe. It is advised to liaise with your GP regarding the best treatment options and discuss any referral requirements.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE Guidelines) recognised that acupuncture is also an effective treatment method in managing migraines for certain patients. 

If you are interested in how acupuncture can help you or a loved one who suffers with migraines our senior physiotherapists are qualified acupuncturists. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss this treatment option contact us or a member of our friendly team on 0161 641 3900 to book your initial assessment.

Migraines can be very challenging to deal with, but understanding their types, triggers, and treatment options can significantly improve your quality of life. If you experience headaches it’s essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for you. With the right approach, you can manage migraines and regain control over your life.

Suggested further reading & listening

 

The National Migraine Centre

The Migraine Trust

NHS

NICE Guidelines

Heads Up- Podcast available on Spotify

Disclaimer- This article is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor and we strongly advise that if you are experiencing headaches or migraines to speak to your GP. 

woman with migraine