A migraine episode is actually a neurological condition that causes a variety of symptoms. Affecting over 1 billion people worldwide, migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness across the globe. Most migraine sufferers have one or two episodes a month, but over 4 million experience migraines on a more chronic basis with over 15 migraine days on a monthly basis. A migraine is more than just a bad headache, and as you’ll get to know below, it can unfold in distinct phases that bring with them their own subset of symptoms.
The Most Common Migraine Symptoms by Phase
Signs and symptoms of a migraine episode can begin a day or two before the onset of the headache itself. What many migraine-free people may not understand about the condition is that it unfolds in phases and that each phase has its own subset of symptoms:
Phase 1 – Prodrome Symptoms
The prodrome phase, sometimes called the pre-headache phase, affects between 30% and 40% of migraine sufferers. For those who do experience it, the prodrome phase serves as a type of warning that an attack is coming. Prodrome symptoms include:
- Excessive yawning
- Food cravings
- Upset stomach – constipation or diarrhea
- Neck pain
- Disturbed sleep
- Mood changes – feeling irritable, anxious, depressed, etc.
- Cognitive changes – trouble speaking or finding words
Phase 2 – Aura Symptoms
When people think about a migraine episode, the aura phase is the one that might come up most often. However, only about a quarter of migraine sufferers will experience it. A migraine aura might allow those who do experience it catch an episode early enough before it progresses into the headache phase. Possible aura symptoms include:
- Visual symptoms that can appear as
- Blurry visions
- Blind spots
- Wavy lines
- Flashes of light
- Partial loss of sight
- Tiny floaters or blank spots in the visual field
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Smelling things that aren’t present
- Hypersensitivity to touch
- Changes in hearing
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and migraines download our complimentary e-book Natural and Drug-Free Ways to End Your Migraines by clicking the image below.
Phase 3 – Headache Symptoms
The actual headache of a migraine episode is easily the most notorious symptom. The trigeminal nerve becomes inflamed, causing much of the pain of the third migraine phase. During the headache phase, other symptoms can arise as well:
- Debilitating headache
- Throbbing or pulsating
- Usually only on one side of the head
- Can last between 4 and 72 hours
- Aggravated by physical exertion
- Referred pain behind the eyes and into the sinuses, teeth, and jaw
- Heightened sensitivities to:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Neck pain
- Anxiety, or even feelings of panic (even in people with no issues with these emotions when not experiencing a migraine episode)
Phase 4 – Postdrome Symptoms
The postdrome phase is the classic migraine “hangover” phase. These symptoms can last for a few hours up to a few days following a more severe episode. Postdrome symptoms commonly include:
- Poor ability to maintain concentration and focus
- Lower levels of comprehension
- Mood changes – these can often swing in the opposite direction of the prodrome phase. If before the onset of an attack you feel depressed or anxious, the postdrome might bring feelings of euphoria or well-being.
Making Sense of Migraines
If you cope with migraines, whether they be infrequent or chronic, then odds are you’re looking for ways to deal with the pain and prevent future episodes from arising. Upper cervical chiropractic care has been providing migraine sufferers with a natural, lasting solution when it comes to managing their condition. We do this with a unique focus on aligning the uppermost vertebrae in the spine (the upper cervical area). A misalignment of the top vertebra in the neck has been implicated as the root cause of many migraine patients’ ongoing condition and has also been the source of much relief once corrected.
Your atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae have some important jobs:
- Provide support for the head.
- Allow for the freedom of movement of our heads to look left to right, up and down, and tilt to bring your ear to the shoulder on each side.
- Protect the brainstem, a critical part of your body’s central nervous system that relays signals between the brain and body.
Because of these important functions, the bones of the upper cervical spine are shaped very differently from the others in the spinal column. This leaves them more vulnerable to misaligning after an accident or injury, or simply due to wear and tear over time. When a misalignment occurs, it can cause irritation to the brainstem (where the trigeminal nerve originates) and can cause muscle tension and spasm in the neck (a very common migraine symptom). This can lead to the development of migraines and many of the other phase-based symptoms we discussed above.
The encouraging part is that upper cervical chiropractic care is designed to restore normal alignment, allowing the body to naturally return to a normal state of function. Because of how individual an atlas misalignment can be, we take great care to provide customized care for each of our patients. Upper cervical adjustments themselves are very precise, which allows them to be performed in a much gentler manner without the need for a great deal of force. Specifically delivered corrections lead to longer-lasting results than more general adjustments do, giving migraine sufferers the lasting relief they need.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Gottlieb call 916-965-7155 or just click the button below.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.