How do I stop my migraines naturally, without taking medication?
This is a question I am often asked when I see a new patient in my clinic. The short answer is it depends. There are a number of factors that are important to consider to help relieve your migraines, including the type you suffer with, how long you have had migraines, and how much of a problem they are in your life. With the right approach it is often possible to successfully prevent migraines from occurring. In some instances, the first step will be to reduce the intensity and frequency of your migraines, before progressing from there.
I will explain the five essential steps to help stop your migraines below in a moment, but first let’s remind ourselves of what migraine actually is and how our understanding of migraine is changing. For example, you may not be aware that there is a type of migraine which actually occurs without head pain, called vestibular migraine.
What is a Migraine?
You will be far too familiar with how your migraines feel, but what are they?
According to Goadsby et al (2017) migraine is considered an inherited ‘brain state’ unique to migraine sufferers. Recent research has dispelled the traditional theory that migraine is vascular in origin and concluded that it is predominantly a neural condition, affecting the nervous system of those who experience migraine.
Classically, migraine is divided into four stages;
- Premonitory Phase – such as changes in mood, food cravings or energy levels.
- Aura Phase – with a fully reversible neurological deficit such as visual aura or speech impairment.
- Headache Phase – Classified as unilateral and pulsating in nature, typically accompanied by nausea and photophobia amongst other symptoms.
- Postdrome Phase – Typically symptoms include fatigue, poor concentration and neck stiffness.
Whilst these phases can occur separately, there generally tends to be significant overlap between them, and some symptoms such as fatigue and poor concentration begin in the premonitory phase and persist throughout into the postdrome phase, noticeable again only once the headache phase has passed.
How Do I Stop My Migraines Naturally?
Successfully stopping your migraines depends on careful consideration of any underlying causes that may be contributing to your migraines, such as your hormones, diet and energy levels, as well as lifestyle factors such as sleep quality, amount of exercise you take and how well you manage stress. These factors are all combined with how well your body is physically functioning, to provide a clear indication of the areas to target in order to help stop your next migraine from developing. And the one after that.
Five Essential Steps To Successful Migraine Prevention
Step One: Underlying Issues
Hormones: Changes in hormone levels linked to your menstrual cycle can affect your migraines. Menstrual migraines tend to develop just before your period starts and are linked to a drop in your levels of oestrogen, as well as progesterone, just before your period begins.
Energy Levels: Low energy levels can trigger migraine attacks or can be a sign of an imminent migraine attack. Fatigue can also persist both during and after a migrainous episode. Research has shown that as much as 84% of chronic migraine sufferers also experience fatigue. Studies have also repeatedly linked mitochondrial dysfunction to migraine.
Diet: Many patients with migraine have questions about the food they eat, which foods to avoid and which can actually be helpful. A lot of patients are concerned about a link between their migraines and eating gluten, whilst others believe certain foods act as triggers for their migraine. One exceptionally important area to consider in migraine is the health of the gut. A number of studies have highlighted a link between gastrointestinal disorders and migraines, but more recent research has suggested that high levels of gut bacteria involved in processing nitrates could explain the connection between some foods and migraine.
Step Two: Sleep
Numerous studies have demonstrated that sleep is exceptionally important for our health, yet the relationship between sleep and migraine is complicated. Sleep can both cause and relieve migraines, and migraines can cause too much or too little sleep. What is clearer is that getting quality sleep and maintaining a balanced sleep-wake cycle by observing good sleep hygiene can help to prevent migraines from occurring.
Step Three: Stress
Research shows that migraines are more likely to occur when you start to wind up after a period of high stress, known as the ‘let down effect’. Why is this? Because in general we don’t control our stress levels well enough and spend too much time in high periods of stress, often without be fully aware that it is building up. If you have a tendency to develop migraines, by the time you come out of the stressful period your body has a lot of recovering to do and this can trigger a migraine episode.
Improving the way you detect and regulate your stress levels can be one of the most profound ways to help prevent migraines from developing.
Step Four: Physical Function
As an osteopath I have spent the last sixteen years examining and treating patients of all ages with migraine. Over the years, I have noticed many similarities in the areas of the body that do not function so well in the case of migraines, and that improving the way these areas function can dramatically help with migraine prevention. Of course your body is unique to you but it is likely some of the following areas will need addressing:
- Your Neck
- Your Jaw (TMJ)
- Your Mid Back, Rib Cage and Diaphragm
- Your Muscular System
- Your Body Awareness Skills
- Your Breathing Mechanics
- Your Involuntary Mechanism (Using Cranial Osteopathy)
Step Five: Intervention
Once we have carried out a thorough assessment, I will explain how these areas may be influencing your migraines and we can decide together on the areas that are most important to address. As part of an appropriate migraine intervention, we may also request blood tests to help assess important vitamin, mineral and hormone levels. Where appropriate we will then introduce the right supplements for you. If necessary, we can also incorporate health technology to help improve energy levels, relaxation skills, breathing mechanics and sleep quality.
What To Expect
When I first see a patient like you who suffers with migraine headaches, we go through a comprehensive case history together, answering any questions you may have and highlighting key areas that we will need to address together in order to help stop your next migraine.
This process also includes a thorough physical examination of key areas of your body to asses how these areas are functioning, and whether they may be contributing to your migraines.
Will Treatment Upset My Migraines?
During each consultation, we work closely together to understand the factors involved in your migraine triggers so we minimise the possibility of upsetting your migraines.
Because we will be introducing a change to the way your body functions, it will need to adapt to this and there may be a temporary increase in your symptoms. This shouldn’t last more than one to two days. Osteopathic treatment works with your body to help improve function, so when we are focusing on the right areas there is usually a short healing response that follows treatment and this is necessary for the improvement to occur. Once again, we will always cover any questions that you have regarding your treatment so you are fully informed of what to expect afterwards.
How Much Will It Cost?
Your initial consultation will cost £80. This will include a thorough case history and examination necessary to formulate a comprehensive migraine prevention plan, plus the most appropriate first stage of intervention to help stop your migraines.
Subsequent treatment sessions cost £65 per session and we will decide together what the most appropriate next steps are and how many sessions may be required in order to help prevent your migraines from occurring. It is important to bear in mind that the treatment process may take some time to be effective but as a guide, I usually initially recommend a further three treatment sessions following the first consultation session, in order to carry out the plan we have devised together. During this time we will closely monitor your progress and regularly review the steps we need to take to help successfully prevent your migraines from occurring.
Migraine Prevention Near Me
Samuel Maddock Osteopathy is located in the city of Bath, UK. If you currently suffer with migraine headaches and want to prevent them from occurring, I can help you. To book a consultation please click here or call 01225 311112. If you have any questions please do get in touch.