When asked, people who suffer from migraines are quick to tell you that the condition is one of the most painful events they can imagine. People who have never suffered from migraines often roll their eyes and compare it to a bad headache. Migraines are much more than a bad headache.
As many as 35 million people suffer from migraines in the United States alone. The excruciating pain that accompanies an episode can leave a person writhing in pain and hiding in a dark room for hours, and in some cases even days. Nearly a decade ago, it was estimated that migraines cost nearly $25 billion because of lost work productivity each year in the U.S. Migraines are more than a problem a patient suffers from, they are a problem that impacts society as a whole.
Many people suffering from migraines have little recourse other than to wait the episode out. However, recent research into the effect of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT) suggests that chiropractic care may offer relief for long suffering migraine patients.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a type of headache that causes throbbing in one area of the head. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. The onset of a migraine leaves the sufferer in nearly debilitating pain.
Some migraines occur rapidly and without warning. This type of migraine headache is classified as migraine without aura. Other migraines are preceded by sensory warnings, or aura. Common warning signs can include flashes of light, tingling in the upper or lower extremities and blind spots.
There are some medications capable of reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines, but many people on medications continue to experience intermittent migraine episodes. Symptoms of a migraine headache can include:
- Pain on one side of the head
- Pulsing or throbbing where the pain is concentrated
- Sensitivity to light, sound and odor
- Vomiting and nausea
- Blurring of vision
- Fainting or light headedness
Many people can feel a migraine coming on a day or two before the pain begins. A few days before the onset of an episode, subtle warning signs may become apparent. Signs of an impending migraine can include:
- A stiff neck
In addition to the warning signs that may be present in the days leading up to the onset of a migraine, people who suffer from migraines with aura may experience some of the following in the hours and minutes before an episode begins.
- Visual cues, such as flashing lights, different shapes or bright spots
- A loss of vision
- Problems speaking or hearing
- Prickling sensations in the arms and legs
Untreated migraines can last anywhere from four hours to three days. There is no common duration or frequency. Some people may experience many migraines a month and others may only have an episode once in their lifetime.