What is a Migraine ?
Almost everyone experiences headache symptoms at some time in their life. However, migraines are a much more serious neurological condition that recurs over time, and can significantly impact your quality of life if left untreated. Indeed, the World Health Organization ranks migraines among the top twenty most disabling diseases in medicine.
According to the National Headache Foundation, almost 30 million people in the US suffer from migraine headaches each year, most of them only experiencing the headaches a few times per month. Although migraines are common across gender and age lines, women are typically affected three times as much as men. The majority of migraine sufferers are between the ages of 15 and 55, but even younger children can be affected in some cases.
Scientists believe that migraines are caused when complex processes within the nervous system release chemicals that promote inflammation in the blood vessels near the brain. They can be triggered by both genetic and environmental factors; in some cases, migraine headaches run in families. Other triggers can include stress, hunger, fatigue, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, bright lights, weather changes, and indoor air quality.
Chronic migraines are among the most serious headache conditions that a patient can experience. They are typically recognized as such when the patient experiences a tension- or migraine-quality headache during more than 15 days per month for at least three months. Many chronic migraine sufferers experience a significant impact on their day-to-day lives, as many of them experience headaches so severe that they are likely to miss five or more days of work, school, and family activities each month.
Migraine headaches (especially when experienced on a chronic basis) can take an emotional toll in addition to causing physical pain. Many chronic migraine sufferers worry that their headaches will strike at any moment, and the condition has been linked to an increased risk of depression. A Harvard article on chronic migraine stigma highlights the frustration and helplessness that some patients experience when they cannot effectively manage their condition. Finding a pain management specialist to address all elements of your condition (emotional and physical) can help you to cope with the anxiety as well as relieve your pain.
Many migraine patients will initially disregard their symptoms as a simple tension headache. However, as pain grows and severe symptoms start to recur, it becomes even more important to understand the difference between tension headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are common, with approximately 30-80% of the adult US population experiencing them occasionally. This type of headache often originates with muscle tension and postural problems. They may be aggravated by emotional conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, and exhaustion. Typically, tension headaches include symptoms such as a mild œpressing pain or a dull ache on both sides of the head that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days, rather than the more severe pain associated with migraines. They usually do not inhibit patients from continuing with their day-to-day activities, and seldom affect vision, balance, or strength.
The most common symptoms of migraine headaches are:
- Moderate to severe head pain
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Intense throbbing or pulsing pain in one or both sides of the head
- Visual auras or disturbances (flashing lights, zigzag lines, specks, floaters)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anxiety, depression, and fatigue
Our migraine doctor can help you to define an appropriate course of treatment for your headache condition. There are many options available both for migraine pain relief and for migraine prevention, including over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Dr. Oliveros has successfully treated hundreds of chronic migraine patients in the Orlando / Central Florida area with FDA-approved Botox injections. This clinically evaluated and proven option allows our patients to reduce their migraine frequency for up to three months per treatment. Patients typically start to see results within three days, with maximum effect achieved at three weeks.
In order to increase the effectiveness of these injections, our state-of-the-art physical therapy department has developed a post-Botox therapy program that can allow patients to experience faster and longer-lasting relief. This program includes:
- Myofascial Release – relieves pressure and releases muscle tension; can help to reduce headache frequency and intensity
Neuromuscular Re-Education Exercises – promoting muscle health through strengthening and coordination exercises
- Upper Core and Neck Strengthening – making sure that your head has the support it needs for healing
Postural Correction – forming good posture habits to keep your neck and head aligned and strong
Headaches, such as cervicogenic/muscular/tension headaches, are also treated with Botulinum Toxin. Other conditions which respond well to treatment with Botulinum Toxin are: