Migraines are debilitating. They can cause you to miss out on many areas of life. They can impact your social and family life,- causing you to miss out on important family events and social engagements. In fact, some people with migraines become fearful of committing to anything because they never know when migraines will attack. A little-known fact is that migraines also impact life in a financial and economic way. Before we look at that a little closer, let’s talk about what a migraine is and what it is not.
A migraine is not just a really bad headache. If you have ever had one, you can testify to this. A headache is one of the symptoms of a migraine, but a migraine comes along with a host of other symptoms:
- Throbbing and pounding head pain
- Head pain that is one-sided in two-thirds of the cases
- Dizziness and vertigo (the sensation you or the things around you are spinning)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and certain smells
- Visual disturbances
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities or the face
It is important to remember that everyone is different, and symptoms will vary from one person to the next. Don’t expect to have the same symptoms as your Aunt Sally even though you both have migraines. Migraines are as unique as the person who suffers from them. This makes them moving targets and very difficult to diagnose and care for. Many sufferers have more than one kind of a migraine. Migraines can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. They are often categorized depending on the predominant symptom. For example, an abdominal migraine has to do with pain in the stomach area.
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Most times, people will begin caring for their migraines by using an over-the-counter product when they first experience migraines. If migraines become more severe and are disabling, come people will consult their doctor. However, as many as half of all migraines go undiagnosed. There is no test or biomarker to confirm or deny the existence of migraines. This makes diagnosing a migraine a diagnosis of exclusion. Often family history is examined, medical tests to rule out other conditions are suggested, and eliminating all possible causes of another disease is done. If your symptoms change, are disabling, or do not improve, it is a good idea to consult your primary care doctor or headache specialist.
Migraines are thought to be linked to genetics as they often run in families. However, many people without a genetic link also have migraines, so this is not the only cause. Current thinking in the way migraines occur reflects advances in the latest technology allowing us to see how the brain connects with the nervous system and how they work together. It was previously thought that the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head was to blame for migraines. Early medications focused on this as a way to care for migraines. However, it is now agreed upon that migraines are neurological in origin and have more to do with nerve pathways and brain chemicals.
Migraine Impact on Society and the Economy
What many people do not realize is how much migraines impact the economy. As many as 39 million people in the USA suffer from these disabling headaches. This puts a great burden on the healthcare system as well as the financial situation of the sufferers. Healthcare costs for a family with a migraine sufferer are as much as 70 percent higher than a family who is not affected by migraines. Because of lost days of work, as much as $13 billion per year is lost in productivity just because of migraines. In 2015, the medical cost of caring for migraines was more than $5.4 billion. However, these sufferers spent an additional $41 billion to care for their entire range of health problems. Healthcare and lost productivity costs associated with migraines are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually in the United States alone. Those in the US also get $1 billion worth of brain scans each year. The sad truth is that migraine sufferers, similar to those with other chronic health conditions, have high costs of medical services, too little support, and very limited access to high-quality care for their condition. In addition, other costs are often incurred because those with migraines often have a coexisting physical and/or psychiatric condition.
Where to Find Help for Migraines
Although migraines are not well understood in the medical community, it is agreed upon that the nervous system is involved. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, the brainstem, and the spinal cord. Interestingly, the C1 and C2 vertebrae were designed to act as a protection for the brainstem. Their unique shape and location make them a type of housing for the brainstem. However, because of this and the mobility they have, they are more susceptible to experience injury than other parts of the spinal cord are. A simple blow to the head or neck, mild whiplash, or even a trip and fall can be enough to move these bones out of alignment. If this happens, they can put pressure on the brainstem and cause it to malfunction. They can also act as a hindrance to the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow to and from the brain and body. These are reason migraines can occur.
We use a gentle method that is specially tailored to each of our patients, depending on where their misalignment is located. We do not have to resort to popping the back or cracking the neck to get positive results. Rather, the method used is both gentle and precise. It encourages the bones to move back into place naturally, leading to a longer-lasting adjustment. This is often all that is needed to see an improvement in migraine pain and intensity. Some patients see their migraines go away completely.
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