Headaches and migraines are common within our society, with migraines being the world’s second-highest cause of disability. Migraines generally last 4-72 hours and are commonly one-sided, moderate to severe in intensity, and have a throbbing or pulsating nature. On the other hand, headaches are a broad term for a group of conditions where people feel pain in their heads.
Common triggers of headaches and migraines
Frequently, people like yourself find that headaches and migraines can be instigated by these triggers:
- Changes in weather
- Medication overuse
How to stop a migraine naturally
Not everyone needs to have surgery or botox for migraine treatment, so here are some ways you can decrease migraines rapidly and naturally.
- Using a cold pack can be effective by placing it on your forehead for 15 mins and then taking it off for 30 mins. This can help to numb your head and reduce your pain sensations.
- Ibuprofen is an effective migraine treatment that decreases the body’s ability to make prostaglandins, which are chemicals that increase inflammation, fever, and pain. During a migraine episode, prostaglandins cause inflammation of the blood vessels which can cause migraine pain. Ibuprofen reduces inflammation and consequently decreases your migraine pain and other symptoms such as nausea.
- Being proactive with your food choices can quickly and naturally reduce migraines. Foods such as aged cheeses, smoked fish, and cured meats all have higher concentrations of tyramine, an amino acid, which helps to regulate blood pressure. When higher levels of tyramine accumulate in the human body, migraines can occur. Foods that can reduce high levels of tyramine include cheese and dairy foods such as yogurt and soy milk; fresh meat, poultry, fish, and eggs; most vegetables and raisins; and staying hydrated.
- Continuing with the dietary theme, caffeine can also quickly reduce your migraine symptoms. Caffeine can help your migraines by decreasing blood flow and therefore inflammation. Additionally, caffeine enhances the effects of analgesic medications such as Panadol by increasing the movement of food through the human body. This increases the absorption of medications and consequently boosts their effectiveness of the medications. If you would like to know more about the relationship between caffeine and migraines, please check this article.
Exercise and body awareness
- Correcting your posture is a great natural way to quickly reduce migraine symptoms. Changing the height of your phone, book, or computer to eye level can help you to naturally sit up straighter and align your neck and head.
- As stress can be a trigger of your migraines, practicing relaxation is a fantastic natural way to quickly ease your migraines. There are many relaxation strategies that can be implemented:
- Rhythmic breathing: This can be useful when your breathing is fast, irregular, and shallow. Rhythmic breathing calms you by decelerating the rate of your breathing with longer, deeper breaths. This can be achieved by counting to 5 slowly when inhaling and counting to 5 when exhaling, noticing the muscles gradually relaxing on the exhales.
- Meditation can be very helpful. There are many different forms of meditation, but all concentrate on reducing any racing thoughts you might have by changing focus from thinking to observation. This is also known as mindfulness and directs patients to focus on activities such as slow deep breathing, or visual imagery such as floating down a river.
- Yoga is based on Hindu practice and implements breathing, meditation, strengthening, and balance poses to help calm and relax your mind.
- Physiotherapy is an effective and natural way of treating your migraines. Recent research suggests that the neck is frequently implicated in migraine and headache production. There is a structure located in the upper three vertebrae of the neck named the brain stem, and when over-sensitised, this structure can refer to pain and symptoms in the head. Physiotherapy, including manual therapy, and postural awareness and exercises, can help you by reducing your neck dysfunction by realigning the top 3 vertebrae in the neck. This helps to diminish brain stem sensitivity and consequently, reduces headache pain and symptom referral.
Take home messages
As you can now see, there are many migraine treatments, and sometimes it is a combination of these activities and techniques that can provide you with optimal results. The latest research demonstrates that physiotherapy is indeed one of the most effective ways to treat migraines naturally by desensitising the brainstem in your upper cervical spine. If a trained headache clinician can determine that the brainstem is causing your migraines and headaches, then they can offer a long-term solution that helps to decrease the duration, intensity, and frequency of your migraines and headaches. An additional benefit is that this migraine treatment can help to reduce medication intake and help you to avoid unnecessary surgery.
For more information, please book a headache assessment with the Gold Coast Headache and Migraine Clinic with one of our skilled headache clinicians by calling 1800 HEADACHE (43 23 22) or visit our website at goldcoastmigraine.com.au to book an appointment.