What are the common symptoms of migraine ?
Many people that suffer from migraine headaches recognise that they often experience different stages during their migraine attack (which reflect the different underlying changes that occur in the brain). These stages can include:
What causes Migraines?
Many people with migraines know that stress, lack of sleep, neck tension and certain foods can “trigger” a migraine attack. However research over the past decade has confirmed that these are simply just “triggers” and that migraines are caused by underlying changes in normal brain function.Sophisticated brain imaging (such as QEEG Brain Scans) has shown abnormalities in the function of some parts of the brain.
Research has shown two important findings: Firstly, that the brain’s of people with migraine appear to be working “slower” on one side (known as “decreased pre-activation”); and secondly, that the brain’s of people with migraine appear to be more sensitive to repetitive stimuli (known as “reduced habituation”).
How do we help Migraines?
Traditionally, treatment for migraine is directed towards minimising the severity and frequency of headaches by using medication to try and prevent attacks. Many people will also look to identify and minimise any “triggers”, and this is a sensible approach that can often be helpful.
Everyone is different and there is no single treatment for migraines that helps everyone. Aside from medication, other treatments shown to be helpful for migraines include Physical Therapies and Exercise, Natural Supplements and Dietary Advice, Neurofeedback Therapy, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback and Trans-Cranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).
At The Perth Brain Centre there is no “one size fits all approach” and we primarily focus on providing drug-free treatments for migraine using Neurofeedback Therapy, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback, Natural Supplements and Dietary Advice, and Trans-Cranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).
In addition to the “common migraine” and “migraine with aura” outlined above, some people can suffer with other types of migraine that can cause vertigo and dizziness, balance problems, slurred speech and weakness on one side of the body (which can resemble a stroke). Finally, children that suffer with migraine often experience abdominal migraines which can cause seemingly unexplained stomach pains.
At The Perth Brain Centre we focus primarily on identifying the underlying problems through a careful and detailed examination and then we use targeted treatment directed towards improving brain function. We perform a special brain scan, known as a QEEG, which helps to identify the location of any “weak” areas in the brain. This information is used to develop a treatment programme that is focussed upon “strengthening” brain function often through a course of neurofeedback therapy, which has been shown to be “dramatically effective in abolishing or significantly reducing headache frequency in patients with recurrent migraine.”
In addition to office-based Neurofeedback Therapy, we also look to help identify and minimise as many “migraine triggers” as possible. Stress is often a significant trigger for migraine headaches and many patients find that HeartMath HRV Biofeedback (a proven stress-management programme that can be practised at home) is very helpful in reducing stress and reducing migraine headaches.
There are many other migraine triggers that can include stiffness affecting the neck, jaw and upper back, too much or too little sleep, hormonal fluctuations, environmental factors (such as strong smells, flickering lights, loud noises and even changes in the weather) and dietary factors (including skipping meals, dehydration, alcohol and caffeine, MSG and certain foods). We are very happy to provide specific advice on how best to manage these triggers. Finally some people also find that certain vitamins and supplements can help to reduce the severity and frequency of their migraines and we are happy to provide specific advice in this regard as well.