Migraine Awareness Week began this week to help raise awareness as despite being the third most common disease in the world, with an estimated 1 in 7 of us affected, understanding about how debilitating this can be is very low.
So what is migraine?
Migraine can be complex and come with many symptoms including headaches, disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, feeling sick or being sick, with the worst attacks resulting in having to stay still for hours until it passes. Attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours and the symptoms may change with each attack, imagine trying to go about your daily life when this happens!
In 1988 the International Headache Society produced a classification system for migraine and headache. Updates have been made since then and it's been adopted by the World Health Organisation for defining all the types of headaches you can get. The most common types of migraine fall into two categories:
- migraine with aura
- migraine without aura
Migraine with aura covers some of the rarer forms of migraine where symptoms such as loss of balance, double vision, or fainting can occur. These have added neurological symptoms.
Migraine without aura is the most common with 70-90% of people experiencing this type.
Do I have a headache or migraine?
It can be hard to work out what type of headache you are experiencing so keeping a diary of what the symptoms are and how often they happen can be really helpful in trying to work out what is going on.
What causes migraine?
We are still in the dark about what actually causes migraine but most people are genetically predisposed. If you do suffer and you have kept a diary you are likely to see that there are certain triggers can bring them on. A few of the migraine clients see treat find that light, lack of food or sleep and drinking alcohol can bring on an attack. Once you have worked out what your triggers are you can try to manage it so you never reach that point where an attack can happen.
What is the treatment?
Due to it being such a complex condition and symptoms varying so much treatments options can vary. These include conventional medicines, Botox, supplements, herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage.
Most migraine sufferers take some form of medication to help reduce or slow the attacks but only a few think to use massage as a form of preventative treatment.
Deep tissue massage can help relieve muscle spasms, improve blood flow and relieve tension. Studies also show how helpful it is for tension and vascular headaches.
One study performed by the University of Miami School of Medicine tested two groups of migraine sufferers. In the first group, the control, participants took their normal medication but received no massage. In the second group, massage was added weekly to normal medication. Those in the massage group not only suffered no migraine headaches during the course of the study, they also slept better and had increased serotonin levels.
We have seen for ourselves the great results you can get with massage, some clients have gone from frequent headaches to either none or considerably less or a course of 6 sessions. Deep tissue massage seems to be the most effective, working on releasing tense tissues and removing trigger points. These massages have to be done in between migraines as the body is far too sensitive to touch during an attack.
Regular deep tissue massage is definitely worth a try to prevent migraines or headaches, it is natural and will allow you to take less medication potentially, you will have the bonus effect of reducing stress levels and ove the long term may prevent further postural issues than contribute to headaches.
Sounds like something you'd like to try? Come and see one of our team to help get rid of your headaches or migraines.