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Chronic headaches are a worldwide epidemic, the worst of these headaches being the family of vascular headaches,
the most commonly known headache of this type being migraines. Most people in their lifetime will experience a migraine
with the typical symptoms of dizziness, nausea, a loss of vision, and intense pulsing or throbbing pain in the head, sensitivity
to light and sound, and even vomiting. Women are more prone to migraines than men. In fact, a woman is three-times more
likely to get a migraine than a man. Treatment for migraines range from heavy medication, which often has serious side
effects with poor results, to alternative healthcare: Acupuncture, Massage, and Shiatsu.
Headache Types and Symptoms
However, not all bad headaches are necessarily migraines. There are four main classifications of headache types: Tension
headaches, Cluster headaches, Hormone headaches, and Migraines. There are also other types of headaches of course,
those based on medication rebound, sinus headaches, and those caused by tumors or other serious ailments. However,
these headaches are rare and most are comprised of the main four classifications.
Tension Headache Cluster Headache Hormone Headache Migraine
Muscles between head and neck contract for hours or days.
Based on one side of the head, usually.
Occurs in women only.
Dull ache develops into constant throbbing, pulsing pain.
Tightening 'vice-like' pain encircling head.
Associated with blood shot eye and runny nose on affected side.
One-sided throbbing headache.
Associated with nausea pain is continuous, but not throbbing 'jabbing' or 'pulling' pain around eye.
Accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Sensitivity to light and noise.
Associated with anxiety or depression.
Piercing, burning, pulsating, excruciating sensitivity to bright lights and sound.
Loss of sight possible.
Occurs usually in the morning or late day, when stress levels should have dropped. Sufferers unable to sit still because of
pain, compelled to move or bang head against wall. PMS version accompanied with fear, panic attacks, impaired judgment
or memory, sensitivity to rejection, and paranoia. Usually last from four hours to a week, depending on severity and
type-some types, such as Ophthalmologic Migraines, can last for months
Migraines: An Overview
The causes of migraines are not extensively known. Though originally it was thought that migraines were due to
restriction and constriction in blood vessels in the head, doctors now believe that the predisposition to migraines is a
hereditary abnormality in cell control in the brain. Other factors that can contribute are stress, food allergies or intolerances,
a sudden drop in stress levels, lack of food or sleep, exposure to light, or, in women, hormonal imbalances. These triggers
do not cause the migraines, but they are thought to activate the process that leads to them.
Migraines are extremely debilitating and can be expensive… in time lost from school and work to paying for the expensive
drugs that may or may not help. Those that suffer from migraines chronically face a lower quality of life and an inability to
accomplish what they want or need to due to the extreme pain and, in some, regular re occurrence patterns.
Prevention and Treatment
So, what can be done to prevent migraines? Most people with a predisposition to getting migraines eventually give up
on the treatment plans that they try and decide to just cope with the problem. Drugs and medical treatment for migraines
can be extremely expensive while not necessarily being beneficial in the least. Many times the side effects of these drugs are
severe, while being unable to help prevent or treat the migraines themselves. Doctors are still searching for effective ways to
prevent and treat migraines from occurring, but there is no 'final answer' to this question.
However, there have been pioneers in the world of Alternative Medicine and treatment that have found dramatic results.
In a case study of 220 migraine sufferers in Denmark 81% of the patients, after three months, reported improvement in their
chronic headache problems to being cured of their migraines altogether. 19% of those who had formerly used drugs to control
their headaches were able to stop using drugs entirely. The solution was not the recommended cocktail of drugs that doctors
would usually prescribe for their migraine patients, instead these migraine sufferers were put through a six month maximum
of reflexology treatments.
Doctors also recommend that chronic migraine sufferers prevent an attack by creating a relaxation time. Meditation, involving
quiet thought and deep, restful breathing, is recommended to achieve the relaxation required, as are massage, craniosacral
work, acupuncture, and other modalities. Treatments such as acupuncture and shiatsu can help, not only to create relaxation,
but also to pinpoint and treat areas and problems that may be the triggers for the migraine sufferers.
Doctors suggest acupuncture 10 times a week in 20-minute treatment sessions, or two times a week for hour-long sessions,
for chronic migraine sufferers. Massage can also help correct muscle pain and tension caused by the physical reaction of having
a migraine. Trigger-point therapy can help release tight muscles in the shoulders, neck, and upper back, leading to a release of
tension-points triggered during a migraine. Massage is recommended once or twice a week for a four to six week period for
Massage & Acupuncture
Massage and acupuncture, on the other hand, have the added bonus of naturally helping the body clear itself of toxins that
can cause other problems as well as migraines. Studies are being done to show that these modalities have a long-term effect
of migraine sufferers and their ability to maintain balance in such a way as to decrease and even prevent migraine
Side Effects Of Drugs Used To Treat Migraines
The other up side to these more natural solution is that they do not have the harmful and, at times, difficult, side effects
that preventative medications do. The list of side effects of these drugs, most commonly used to treat migraines, include:
Occasional abdominal scarring
Some things can cause a migraine to start. These are called triggers. Your triggers may be different from someone else's.
Some common triggers include:
Poor sleep habits.
A change from your normal routine.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG).