Migraine Awareness Week 2016 takes place from the 4th-10th September. With 1 in 7 people affected by migraine, the aim of this event is to reach as many people as possible to highlight the debilitating effects that migraine can have and to help affected people take control of their lives.

Migraine is the cause of roughly 20% of all headaches and around 8 million people in the UK live with migraine problems. Recent research suggests that migraine is the result of a complex series of neural and vascular events – the key symptoms of this kind of headache are usually experienced as a throbbing pain on one side of the head, often with a strong sensitivity to light and sound and a feeling of sickness. In some cases, migraine can be overlooked, or mistaken for other conditions as it can affect people in many different ways.

In some cases, suffering a migraine can be completely debilitating and very painful. Some sufferers experience strong head pains, pins and needles, numbness or even paralysis in the limbs. Attacks commonly last anywhere between 4 and 72 hours, with most migraine sufferers feeling fine between attacks.

What triggers a migraine?

Food and drink such as cheese, chocolate and red wine are widely believed to trigger migraines, but for most people, there is not a single trigger, but a combination of factors that can usually be tolerated individually. When these factors do occur together, a migraine is triggered. Some of the factors most commonly identified as being linked to migraines include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking tobacco or exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Menstrual periods and use of oral contraceptives
  • Family history of migraine
  • Prolonged muscle tension and stress

How an osteopath can help to treat migraine and other headaches

An osteopath focuses on the structural elements that contribute to a migraine, looking at the body as a whole. To gain an in depth understanding, your osteopath will always ask a number of questions to help decide whether the causes of your migraine can be treated osteopathically. Common questions that you osteopath will likely ask include:

  1. When did you start suffering from migraines?
  2. Where is the pain located?
  3. Is there a daily pattern?
  4. What kind of pain are you suffering from? How severe is it?
  5. How long do your headaches normally last
  6. Is there a particular trigger for your migraine, or certain movements that aggravate it?
  7. Do you experience visual disturbances?

Your osteopath will then carry out some gentle examinations, checking the movements of your neck and spine, your blood pressure and possibly conducting some neurological examination. Once your osteopath is satisfied that your headaches are linked to a musculoskeletal problem, they can begin treatment, looking at alleviating tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders and around the jaw and base of the skull.

Osteopaths also look at your posture and lifestyle, as well as any imbalances in your body that could be a result of growth, illness, work, injury or bad habits. In many cases, an osteopath can help you to eradicate or at least modify these imbalances.

Should your osteopath feel that there are further symptoms to the migraine that cannot be treated osteopathically, they would refer you to a GP, specialist, or in uncommon cases where symptoms are very worrying, to A&E.

If you are affected by migraines, call us today on 0121 705 4499 to arrange an appointment.