Migraines, my story
Understanding Migraine Headaches
Migraine is more than ‘just a headache.’ I, & anyone who has ever suffered from the misery of a migraine will tell you that they can be anything from unsettling and uncomfortable to downright incapacitating. Migraine headaches are typically very severe and can come with additional symptoms like dizziness, nausea and even loss of speech and sight which can be extremely frightening
What Is a Migraine Headache?
Not all people who experience migraines will get the classic headache – and some people don’t experience the headache every time. Because a migraine headache is considered a ‘primary’ headache, because there is no apparent underlying condition that could be causing it, they can be hard to treat. In some people, they are accompanied by sight disturbances and other neurological symptoms that doctors call the ‘migraine aura’. Sometimes, in a migraine with aura, there is no headache or it can be averted with painkillers at the aura stage, but in other cases the classic migraine headache can be blindingly painful, lasting anything from 20 minutes to a couple of days.
Some people who experience sudden, severe, or recurrent migraines will need to be seen by a doctor and examined for other possible conditions, but in most cases migraines just have to be managed and treated as there is no cure – and often no obvious triggers. As migraine can sometimes be associated with other more severe conditions, if you have what you think is a migraine for the first time, you should seek advice from a medical professional.
I had my very first migraine when I was 13 years old (yes it coincided wonderfully with the onset of puberty) and I have had them ever since. Some will last a few hours (very rarely), some will last for days (more common than not). I have been on medications, numerous elimination diets, increased fluids, cut out caffeine, on & off the contraceptive pill, I have taken triptans & beta-blockers & have even had my GP out to inject me with anti-nausea medication & heavy duty pain relief (I have an amazing GP), I have even been admitted to hospital with them. I get a pounding in my left temple & face (always the left side), I vomit, I become very smell sensitive (not great when you're an aromatherapist!), I get an aura, I get photophobic (I have to be in a dark room), I have to have a very cold cloth on my face & I even get woken up by them overnight so I cant even get peace when I sleep.
Mine are triggered hormonally, but can also just occur randomly, there are no foods that set me off, but there is a connection with lighting in offices. My middle son & my daughter both get them as well, so genetics definitely play a role for us.
How do you treat a migraine?
After over 30 years of battling with migraines & after talking with my GP I took the unusual step of discontinuing my medications and
I spoke to my own massage therapist about how she could help me... it wasn't instant and I will never be free of them completely, but she treated me with clinical trigger point massage with a focus around my head, neck & shoulders & I can honestly say that this has made the biggest difference to my life.
Before you change any treatment or try a new treatment you should discuss this with your doctor, but there are options available for managing migraines. Many people turn to medication, & I myself still use triptans when I develop one. Massage therapy can help to reduce the number of migraines in sufferers – a 2006 study of migraine sufferers showed that people who had massages experienced fewer migraines and slept better during the weeks they had massages, although it was a small study. You may have to try several different treatment options before discovering the best one for you.