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Migraines are a very painful headache, that could have many different causes. In this article we look at symptoms, causes and treatment options. 

What are Migraines?

Migraine is a condition where a person may experience recurrent and severe headaches. Migraines are known to affect millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, the precise cause and pathophysiology of migraines remain the subject of ongoing research.

Symptoms of Migraines

Migraines are typically classified into two main categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

Aura refers to a range of sensory disturbances that may occur before or during a migraine attack, including visual, sensory, or language-related symptoms.

The most common symptom of migraines, regardless of aura presence, is a severe, throbbing headache, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound (Goadsby et al., 2017). These symptoms can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.

Causes of Migraines 

The exact causes of migraines are multifactorial and involve complex interactions between genetic, environmental, and neurovascular factors. Recent research suggests that migraines may result from a combination of genetic susceptibility and various triggers, such as hormonal changes, stress, sleep disturbances, and certain foods (Charles, 2018).

Neurovascular mechanisms play a significant role in the pathophysiology of migraines. Studies have shown that the activation of the trigeminovascular system, a network of nerves that innervate blood vessels in the brain, leads to the release of inflammatory neuropeptides, such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). This process causes vasodilation, neurogenic inflammation, and sensitization of pain pathways, contributing to the characteristic headache associated with migraines (Edvinsson, 2019).

Treatment for Migraines

The management of migraines involves both acute treatments to relieve symptoms during an attack and preventive strategies aimed at helping to reduce the frequency and severity of future episodes.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are commonly used as first-line acute treatments for migraines (Dodick, 2018). Additionally, antiemetics can help alleviate nausea and vomiting associated with migraines. 

Migraine prevention 

For individuals experiencing frequent migraines, preventive therapy may be recommended. Several medications have been proven effective in reducing migraine frequency and severity. Lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, stress management techniques, and identifying and avoiding trigger factors, can also contribute to the prevention of migraines. For patients who are looking for another way to help with their migraines, at Skelian, Chiropractic care offers a non-pharmacological approach to migraine management, focusing on areas of the musculoskeletal system that might be contributing to the migraine symptoms. Alongside addressing the mechanical or musculoskeletal issues that might be adding to migraine symptoms, at Skelian we can also offer other forms of help such as lifestyle, diet and exercise advice that may help manage your migraines. 

While the evidence supporting chiropractic care for migraines is promising, further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms of action and establish its efficacy. Please find the links to research articles below for further information. 

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Alex Broomsgrove, Chiropractor Cheltenham Skelian

Alex Broomsgrove



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Research links

Exercise and Migraine Prevention: a Review of the Literature

Migraine and Diet

Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache

The Impact of Spinal Manipulation on Migraine Pain and Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


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