Why Migraines May Be a Neck Problem
By Catherine Zabelin, DC
Migraine headaches are all too common and there are plenty of treatments that can lead to confusion and being overwhelmed by the myriad of options out there. This situation was clearly evident to me from a patient I had this week that has tried Botox injections for years with over 30 injections points throughout her head and neck, they were also prescribed Depakote, and monthly injections of a CGRP antagonist. Migraines are more prevalent than we think with severe migraine attacks being classified by the World Health Organization as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, and active psychosis. The ramifications of suffering from migraines is wide spread for some people. It can affect their work life, family life, social life, and cause fatigue, worry, and fear.
The first step in getting the appropriate treatment is to be correctly diagnosed with the right type of headache by a health-care provider. Having the correct diagnosis can lead a patient to the appropriate type of care. It can also help educate the patient about what he/she has going on, and provide long-term solutions to how to manage the condition. If only the treatment part was that easy. Unfortunately, the way our health-care system has been set up, the immediate “solution” is taking a pharmaceutical drug. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has suffered from migraines, I know that wanting to get rid of them is high on the priority list. However, medication is not always the best long-term solution for migraines. A lack of knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of the condition has proven to be a problem in getting people the proper care for migraines and getting to the root cause.
“People with migraine illness have a nervous system that is not working normally. It overreacts to stimuli and, when stimulated, there is an unusual wave of brain activity that leads to a headache.”
Aligning the head and neck allows for the surrounding structures to function in a more normal state. Take for example the nerves and blood vessels that run throughout the upper neck. They have been shown to play a huge role in the pathophysiology of migraines. Migraines have also been associated with the trigeminal nerve. Migraines involve dysfunction of the brain-stem pathways that normally modulate sensory input. NUCCA care involves aligning the structures that surround these delicate areas that are prominent in how migraines work. In 2015, NUCCA published a study on migraine sufferers performed at the University of Calgary. The study showed the patients experienced fewer migraines, increased quality of life and better emotional functioning under NUCCA care.
As the Association of Migraine Disorders states, people with migraine illness have a nervous system that is not working normally. It overreacts to stimuli and, when stimulated, there is an unusual wave of brain activity that leads to a headache. Calming and clearing the nervous system is an essential component to the migraine puzzle. Once we start to unpack the anatomy and physiology, the solutions can become far more clear.