If you're one of the 36 million men, women and children in the United States that suffer with migraine, you'll be all too familiar with the symptoms. The figures are startling; more people appear to suffer from migraine than diabetes and asthma combined!
Symptoms can include some or all of the following:
- Pre-headache/warning phase
- Intense throbbing pain, usually to one side of the head
- Visual & sensory disturbances (Aura)
- Severe sensitivity to light and sound
There are a number of medications that can help to prevent and treat an attack including drugs such as anti-emetics (anti-sickness) which can be useful during a migraine episode. However, additional therapies are being used with more frequency and more confidence by 'migraineurs'. Massage Therapy, Osteopathy & Chiropractic, from trained professionals, should be considered alongside conventional medicines.
A combination of Craniosacral Therapy and Acupuncture has proved beneficial for some migraine patients. Both therapies work in harmony with each other and can be used alongside more mainstream treatments. Understanding the pressure that stress plays in our lives is also an important factor in understanding migraine. The Mayo Clinic recently stated that Massage Therapy can help with pain management, blood pressure control, stress, anxiety, sports injuries and can also help to boost the immune system.
Research in 2011 showed that patients who received 60 minutes of massage therapy once a week were more likely to be able to cope with back pain and use less anti-inflammatory medications. Many Massage Therapists are reporting that more patients are turning to their services as an addition to their regular healthcare routines and many are able to offer tangible help for migraine sufferers.
Recent studies have found that there is more than a hint of inherited genetic susceptibility to migraine with aura. Taking a full patient history is essential if Complementary Therapists are to tackle a complex issue such as Migraine. Understanding contributing factors and taking time to listen to patients is essential. Often, people who suffer with migraine are able to indicate the sort of triggers that initiate their migraine symptoms and will explain that a certain type of food, activity or the weather plays a part. All symptoms and patient experiences are important and a professional Therapist should monitor how migraine triggers respond to the course of treatment.
Professor Vincent Martin, from the University of Cincinnati, has lead some interesting research into the effect of how our weather plays a part in the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. “Electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning could trigger headaches.” An increase in air pollutants caused by lightning, such as ozone and fungal spores, may trigger migraine symptoms. The US researchers kept a record of weather ‘events’ and migraine attacks for a group of volunteers. Headaches and migraines increased around 30% on days that had lightning strikes.
Professor Martin said “Ultimately, the effect of weather on headache is complex, and future studies will be needed to define more precisely the role of lightning and thunderstorms.” The research could mean that, in the future, weather forecasts will be able to indicate when an increased risk for lightning-associated headaches is likely.
What are your experiences with complementary therapies and Migraine?