-Dr. Jonathan Arkin
Migraine is a disorder that’s millions of Americans are diagnosed with. In fact, roughly 39 million men, women, and children are afflicted in the US and potentially up to a billion people worldwide. It is the third most common illness in the world and is so much more than just a bad headache.
Migraine is a neurological disorder with devastating neurological symptoms including but not limited to;
- Severe throbbing pain, usually one sided
- Visual and auditory disturbances (aura)
- Hallucinating smells
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Tingling and/or numbness in the face, arms, hands, and feet.
- Vomiting and dizziness
- Depression and anxiety
Many people will have pain daily! This can lead to people not being able to work and will often lead to many other co-morbidities. These can be varied and serious such as increased stroke risk, depression, fibromyalgia, and many others.
This is complicated by a lack of understanding of what a migraine is. There are many theories right now, the most common one being changes in how blood flow occurs in the brain. We now realize that this cannot cause the pain, but it may contribute to it. There are several triggers for migraine which have been identified such as;
- Flickering lights
- Food sensitivities
- Weather changes
There are even many different types of migraines. Vascular, Basilar, Vestibular, Silent etc… they go on and on. As a matter of fact, there are dozens of different types of migraines and there is no agreed upon cause or therapy to fix any of them.
Luckily however we do know a common problem with all types of migraine. This is the fact that no matter what type of migraine you may be suffering with, we know that it is due to a primary brain dysfunction. This is where your brain is causing pain to be interpreted when it should not be doing so.
Typical medications have a pretty bad success rate on fixing migraines. Because every migraine should be viewed as a brain dysfunction. One of our brains primary jobs is to decrease the sensation of pain we feel in our body; however, it can fail in this job and cause massive amount of pain even without any physical cause of pain, this is called “brain-based pain”. This is what happens in a migraine, our brain causes pain when it shouldn’t happen.
The best way to treat this terrible disorder is by understanding how the brain works. What your doctor needs to do is a comprehensive examination to determine exactly where your brain is dysfunction, they then need to rule out red flags; things like tumors, bleeds, etc. Once this is done and your doctor knows where in the brain you are having your dysfunction, a thorough treatment plan must be developed with the goal of stimulating the regions of the brain that are struggling.
There are many types of treatments that have been shown to work such as, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, medicine, herbs, exercise, etc… The problem lies in the fact that 10 people can have the same symptoms and have brain dysfunction in 10 different areas, so it is very difficult for you, the patient, to guess which therapy will work best for you.
That is where we come in, our team, is specifically trained to not only diagnose the region of brain dysfunction but also to provide the treatment that will work for you.
In the meantime, what you can do is go ahead and keep a journal of when your symptoms occur, do your best to identify any triggers that lead to headaches and eliminate them.
This should shed some light on what a migraine actually is. Shockingly enough I have found that many patients have never been taught what is happening to them. If you or a loved one has any questions, please feel free to call at 770-664-4288. A doctor will be happy to consult with you or direct you to a provider that may be more local to you that we trust.
Look out for further articles demystifying disease and directing health.
P.S. if you want to do some further research on migraine…