Physical Therapy and Migraines

If you are one of the 15 percent of the general population that suffers from migraines, you know that the worst part is feeling helpless. Whether you feel helpless when it comes to preventing a migraine or helpless when it comes to treating a migraine, you can’t help but feel enslaved by a condition that causes 91 percent of sufferers to miss work or other daily activities. Fortunately, the solution for migraine management may be simpler than you think.

What is migraine?

According to the American Migraine Foundation, a migraine attack is not considered a headache but a neurological disease. Nearly twice as many women as men are affected by migraines. Attacks are usually characterized by painful throbbing or pulsing on one side of the head, usually accompanied by changes in vision, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, or sensitivity to sound. Migraine attacks usually begin in childhood, but can begin during adolescence or early adulthood.

What causes a migraine attack?

One of the most frustrating parts of a migraine is that there is no definitive cause, therefore there is no definitive cure. Some researchers believe that a migraine is caused by changes in the chemicals in the brain that regulate pain. Others feel that problems in the brain stem and its interaction with certain neural pathways cause migraines. Still others believe environmental factors play a role in migraines. Diet, exercise, light, heat, stress, medication, or changes in sleep can all affect whether a person experiences a migraine attack. Other risk factors include age, family history of migraine and hormonal changes due to puberty or menopause.

How is a migraine traditionally treated?

Since there is no definitive cause for migraine attacks, most physicians focus on limiting the duration or severity of a person’s symptoms. Medications are often prescribed that either target a person’s serotonin levels or relieve pain, but stomach problems due to frequent NSAID use or medication overuse sometimes result. Many of these medications are also most effective before a person is in pain. If they react to the warning symptoms that a migraine attack is coming, many times they can avoid the worst of their symptoms.

Physical Therapy For Migraine Sufferers.

One of the most promising long-term solutions for chronic migraine sufferers is physical therapy. One study showed that migraine sufferers who participated regularly in physical therapy experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms and severity. The improvement did not end with the prescribed course of physical therapy. In fact, its effect was still felt a year later when migraine sufferers reported a continued reduction in incidence and severity. Best of all, physical therapy is non-pharmacological and void of the side effects so many other medications carry.

If you are suffering from migraines, click here to schedule a consultation with our physical therapist.

Raj Thangamuthu