Unlike the common headache, migraines are neurovascular in nature. While categorized as a neurological condition, researchers have also found blood flow issues that contribute to the onset of migraines. We’re going to take a closer look at both the neurological and vascular sides of a migraines. Then we will discuss an often-overlook source problem in both of these bodily systems. Finally, we will explain how upper cervical chiropractic helped one woman to conquer her lifelong struggle with migraines, and how it may be able to help you too.
Migraines and the Central Nervous System
It is easy to see how migraines ended up being classified as a neurological condition. Besides a headache, migraines also often cause many of the following symptoms:
Visual disturbances – You may experience everything from seeing flashing lights to temporary blindness. There is nothing wrong in the eye itself. This is all happening in the part of the brain that controls vision.
Sensory sensitivities – You may become particularly sensitive to lights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches during an attack. These can also be the things that trigger a migraine if your senses become overstimulated.
Vertigo – While many causes of vertigo are in the ear, vertigo associated with migraines is due to miscommunication between the ear and brain (which travels through the brainstem).
Mood changes – From depression to elation, you may never know how you are going to feel right before, during, or in the days following a migraine. Migraineurs experience a higher suicide rate than the general public, especially migraineurs who experience aura.
There are also connections to hormone fluctuations, stress levels, and many other factors that either affect or are controlled by the central nervous system (CNS) and the brainstem in particular. It is therefore vital to do everything you can to help your CNS function optimally if you get migraines.
Migraines and the Vascular Research
While migraines are not considered hereditary, there is clearly a genetic predisposition involved. This would explain why having one parent who is a migraineur gives a child a 50% risk of developing the same condition. If both parents get migraines, the risk jumps to 75%. In fact, when a person is diagnosed with migraines, there is a 90% chance that she or he has a relative with this condition.
As a result, researchers looked into common genetic differences experienced by migraineurs. What they found linked the condition to the vascular system. It turned out that the majority of the genetic markers that were associated with migraines are all related to blood flow. How does blood flow affect migraines?
The brain relies on a steady supply of blood to get the oxygen it needs to function properly. Vascular issues can limit this proper flow of blood to the brain. In turn, the CNS no longer is able to function optimally. Therefore, the vascular and neurological causes of migraines work hand in hand.
This raises another question as we seek to get to the bottom of the genesis of a patient’s migraines. What can cause both the neurological and vascular changes that result in migraines? The answer may be in your neck.
The Atlas and Its Effect on the CNS and Blood Flow
The atlas is the name for the top vertebra in the spine. It is located at the base of the skull and balances the head. What effects can this bone have on both the central nervous system and blood flow if it is out of alignment by even the slightest of margins?
Reduced blood flow – The cervical spine controls blood flow to the brain by means of the vertebral foramen. These tiny loops of bone that are a part of the seven bones of the neck provide safe passage for the vertebral arteries. However, if the atlas is misaligned, it can create a chain reaction in the neck that is designed to keep the head balanced but may have detrimental effects on the proper flow of blood to the brain.
Inhibited brainstem function – The atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem right at the crucial juncture where it meets the spinal cord. However, if the alignment of the atlas is off by a fraction of a millimeter, it can put pressure on the brainstem and throw off the proper function of this key component of the central nervous system.
In this way, the atlas can affect both the vascular and nervous systems. How can you get this misalignment corrected in a safe and gentle manner?
Natural Migraine Relief in Williamsburg, VA
At Via Vitae Chiropractic, we use upper cervical techniques to specifically target the atlas and restore it to proper alignment with precision. For some of our migraine patients, this has resulted in tremendous benefits. Take, for example, Kaitlin, who suffered from migraines her entire life. Upper cervical chiropractic care provided such significant benefits that Kaitlin no longer needs medication for her migraines. And the care is so gentle that she has been able to continue getting adjustments while pregnant.
If you suffer from migraines in the Williamsburg area, then we encourage you to give us a call at 757-208-7108 to schedule a consultation, or get in touch with us by submitting our online contact form. You may find that upper cervical chiropractic is the gentle and affordable care you have been searching for. Start your journey down the path to improved health and wellness today!