Migraines are a medical condition that can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, light and sound sensitivity, nausea and even vomiting.
Many migraines will often be preceded by a medical phenomenon known as an ‘aura’, where the person will typically experience some visual phenomenon like bright flashes, colours, shapes or even vision loss. Some people have other aura symptoms, such as weakness or numbness, tingling in parts of their body, or auditory phenomenon.
Chronic migraines can be a serious and debilitating condition, which can be difficult to treat properly. In this article, we will outline how we approach migraine treatment at Northoak Chiropractic, using functional neurology.
To learn more about this process, you can continue reading this blog post or contact Dr. Jay and the Northoak Chiropractic team here. Please feel free to send us a message if you have any questions!
Our Approach to Migraine Treatment
At Northoak Chiropractic, we take an integrative approach to migraine treatment that combines neurologic, metabolic, and nutritional perspectives to achieve a holistic understanding of the causes underlying your condition.
Addressing A Genetic Condition
The first thing to understand is that the prevailing theory on the cause of migraines is a genetic one. Migraines tend to run in the family and reoccur over different generations. When we treat a person who experiences chronic migraines, we approach the situation with the understanding that this person has a genetic sensitivity that is driving their symptoms.
The key to reducing the symptoms is to discover what is contributing to the sensitivity and then find a way to bring it to a manageable level. This can be achieved in a few ways: (i) by driving neuroplasticity in affected areas of the brain, (ii) by making dietary and lifestyle modifications.
The other important thing to understand is that because chronic migraines are a genetic condition, it is usually impossible to eliminate them entirely. However, a realistic goal is to help patients reduce the frequency of chronic migraines from almost daily occurrences to only a few times per month.
As we mentioned earlier, chronic migraines are typically driven by a genetic sensitivity to various stimuli. In neurological terms, this sensitivity is caused by a lower response threshold in the trigeminal system of the brain, whose primary nucleus is located in the pontomedullary brainstem. Normally, this nucleus is inhibited by other areas of the brainstem and cortical areas.
However, in the case of a person with chronic migraines, their nucleus will react more aggressively to stimuli. To reduce this reaction, our treatment will work to drive neuroplasticity and reduce excitatory stimuli to the trigeminal system, while strengthening the areas of the brain responsible for inhibiting it, including the pons, medulla, mesencephalon, and higher cortical areas.
Most people will have unilateral migraines, which affect primarily one side of their head. In these cases, we may focus on stimulating areas on the same side of the brainstem that their migraine manifests. During testing, we will use indicators of function to identify which specific areas will need to be targeted.
Disclaimer: It is important to note that the stimulations used for each patient will vary depending on their specific situation and may be unhelpful for another person. We recommend consulting with a properly certified functional neurologist if you plan to treat a chronic migraine using this method.
Another way to reduce sensitivity for a person experiencing chronic migraines is to make targeted dietary modifications. There are several dietary triggers that are commonly associated with migraines. The most common examples are red wine and fermented foods, which are well-known histamine generators.
However, it is important to note that each person will react slightly differently to dietary changes, depending on their specific metabolism. The overall goal of these dietary modifications will be to reduce blood sugar fluctuations and immune reactions in the patient and work in conjunction with the rest of your treatment — you should always consult with a professional, rather than simply making changes on your own.
Want to learn more about how functional neurology can help treat your migraines? Contact our team today to book an initial consultation.