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What Causes Migraine Headaches?

How Can I Make Them Go Away?

Migraine is a specific type of headache suffered by about 12 percent of the population. Typically, these headaches are severe, painful, and recurring. They can also be debilitating and last for hours or days. Often, they occur on only one side of the head. They may be triggered by certain stimuli or preceded by one or more warning signs called auras. People between the ages of 15 and 55 are most vulnerable. No one really knows what causes migraines, but researchers suspect that they are symptoms of abnormal brain activity that affects cell communication in the central nervous system and chemicals levels in the brain.

Common Migraine Triggers:

  • Stress and overexertion
  • Sleep deprivation, jet lag and insufficient restorative sleep
  • Shoulder and neck tension
  • Hunger and dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • Premenstrual syndrome and other hormonal changes
  • Depression, anxiety, shock and excitement
  • Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cheese and citrus fruits
  • Tyramine, a component of aged, cured, spoiled and fermented foods
  • Hormone replacement medications
  • Certain sleeping pills and birth control pills
  • Strong odors and second-hand smoke
  • Bright and flickering lights
  • Loud noises
  • Stuffy rooms
  • Temperature changes

Two Types of Migraines

10 to 30 percent of migraine sufferers experience sensory disturbances called auras that precede headaches. Auras can be visual hallucinations like flashing or sparkling lights, zigzag lines or geometric patterns, or they can be zblind spots. Physical auras can include a stiff neck, sore shoulders, sore limbs, pins and needles in an extremity or numbness in a body part. You might smell unpleasant odors or have trouble speaking.

Migraine Symptoms

Besides severe, throbbing pain that may be confined to one side of the head, there may be pain related to physical activity, nausea, vomiting and hypersensitivity to lights, sounds and smells. Diarrhea, chills and sweating may also occur.

How Are Migraines Treated?

There's no quick fix for migraines. However, taking medication at the first sign of trouble and retreating to a dark and quiet room can sometimes head off a full-blown attack. Migraines are customarily treated with OTC analgesic medications like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen or with prescription pain medicines. Recently, doctors have treated migraines by injecting certain branches of the trigeminal and cervical spinal nerves with Botox. These nerves are located in the face and neck, and they're associated with migraine symptoms. Serotonin agonists, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and trycyclic antidepressants have been prescribed to prevent migraines, while supplements like coenzyme Q10, herbal extracts like feverfew, minerals like magnesium citrate and vitamins like B-12 and riboflavin have also been used to treat symptoms.

If you live in Central Texas, suffer from migraine headaches, and are still searching for an effective way to treat the pain, Advanced Pain Care may be able to help. We offer innovative treatments for migraine headaches and associated chronic pain including precision nerve injections, epidural steroid injections, radio frequency therapy, spinal cord stimulation, physical therapy, pain medications and psychological support.