Migraine, which means “one side of the head,” can occur with or without aura. Aura simply indicates that there is some kind of warning before the migraine. In terms of auras, visual and auditory problems are the most common, although they are not the only ones. The other type of migraine does not have an aura. In addition to being on one side of the head, it is distinguished by throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sensory input, which can be exacerbated by everyday activities, sounds, or light. They can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, and everyone who has had one understands how debilitating and upsetting they can be.
According to research, migraines with aura and migraines without aura are unique entities (Russell and Olesen 1995; Russell et al 1996). While migraines with aura can be a complex neurological puzzle that should be studied by a skilled physician, migraines without aura can be a little easier to diagnose. Let’s examine more closely at migraine without aura.
Undoubtedly, if you suffer from migraines, you have tried over-the-counter and/or prescription drugs to find relief. In order to manage the symptoms, doctors may typically give pain relievers, antidepressants, beta-blockers, or medications meant to treat epilepsy.
Unfortunately, this strategy has a very negative outcome. You are trapped in a seemingly unending cycle of pain and suffering if you try to control the symptoms without addressing the cause. Furthermore, in addition to taking away your enjoyment of life, one of the most prevalent adverse effects of these drugs is liver damage, which can present its own set of symptoms and diseases.
Let’s start with one of the most prevalent causes of migraines: a lack of structural integrity in the neck, which is commonly manifested as a forward head posture when viewed from the side.
When you have a forward head position, the muscles at the base of your skull, known as suboccipital muscles, can spasm to protect your head from falling forward.
This places strain on the surrounding suboccipital nerve and vertebral arteries, reducing blood supply to the brain and impairing neurological function.
Locating trigger points in the related muscles is an effective home treatment technique for migraines caused by a breakdown in the structural integrity in the neck. A trigger point is a hyperirritable region in a taut band of a skeletal muscle that is unpleasant on compression, stretch, overload, or contraction of the tissue, and frequently responds with referred pain that is felt far away from the location.
Dr. Janet Travell, MD, an American medical doctor and the personal rheumatologist of US President John F. Kennedy, first described trigger points in the literature in 1942. Dr. Travell’s studies proved that tension in individual muscles causes distinct pain patterns. Referred pain refers to pain that occurs at a distance from the source of stress. Dr. Travell observed that some muscle sites induced referred pain to seemingly unrelated points on the body. These were referred to as “trigger points” by her.
She discovered that reducing tension on these trigger points caused the referred pain to go away.
Trigger points are quite common in today’s modern world as a result of our everyday activities; nonetheless, trigger points are typically neglected as a potential cause of transferred pain patterns.
What causes trigger points?
A typical source of trigger points is trauma. Trauma can occur in the form of both macro and micro traumas. Chronic poor posture from sitting all day, for example, or excessive contractions, such as when using an external mouse for computer work, can result in recurrent micro-traumas that lead to trigger points and subsequent referred pain patterns.
Once a trigger point develops, it requires less and less stimulus to stimulate that trigger point and start the cascade of pain patterns that Travell has sketched out.
Travell identified two types of trigger points: active trigger points and latent trigger points. When pressure is applied to an activated trigger point, referred pain increases or is formed if it does not already exist. Latent trigger points are painful locally, but they do not cause transferred pain. Both should be handled equally and should not be overlooked.
The most popular muscles to look for trigger points in migraine sufferers are the suboccipital muscles, upper trapezius muscle, and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle.
The suboccipital muscle group is made up of four separate muscle pairs. These muscles are densely packed with spindle cells and connect directly to the dura. The presence of more spindle cells suggests that these muscles are more concerned with maintaining a neutral head position through proprioception and stabilization than with actual head movement. These trigger sites in muscles can have Deep inside the head, referred pain can be felt in the occiput, temporal area, eye, and forehead.
TP to this region can occur from long periods of sitting in front of a computer, sleeping on your stomach, activities that rotate the head for an extended period of time, or forward head position since these structures tend to compress these tissues. Because these muscles are deep, it might be difficult for a normal person to identify and treat trigger points.
Ice is another excellent approach to treating trigger points. Putting ice at the base of the skull for 20 minutes can help relieve suboccipital trigger points and their accompanying referred pain patterns.
Trigger sites in the suboccipital group are rarely isolated.
The upper trapezius, temporalis, and SCM muscles are frequently implicated. It is worthwhile for readers to spend some time identifying and clearing trigger points in these other related places. Daily activities such as talking on the phone or texting, sitting for too long, or repetitive movements such as using an external mouse can cause the upper trapezius to tighten.
Trigger points are frequently seen near the base of the neck and on the way to the shoulders. The referred pain can be felt on the side and top of the neck, at the base of the skull, in the lower jaw, and on the side of the head at the temple, causing headache pain.
The SCM muscle has two heads, one sternal and one clavicular. It is in charge of flexing or twisting the head. This muscle is prone to trigger points. Turning the head to one side will help you find the muscle. On the opposite side of the head turn, the muscle will burst out of the neck.
However, when palpating for trigger points, you want the muscle to be relaxed, therefore keep the head in a neutral position or tilt the head towards the shoulder of the side you’re palpating. Pinch the muscle with your fingers and look for a fibrous taut band or indicators of reproduction.
In migraines, the sternal head can cause referred pain or pressure above or behind the eye and/or the rear of the head. Similarly, the Clavicular division can convey pain across the forehead and deep into the ear.
Treating Trigger Points
There are two generally accepted ways to treat trigger points. Intermittently chilling the muscle with stretch and with digital pressure.
Technique 1: Chilling the muscle with stretch intermittently
To begin the procedure of intermittently cooling the muscle with stretch, wrap some ice in thin plastic wrap. This is done to avoid direct skin contact since wetness slows the rate of skin temperature change and extends and diffuses the cooling effect.
Make sure to ice the entire muscle when icing. Apply a mild stretch as the muscle cools, being careful not to overstretch and tear the muscle. Furthermore, if the muscle is overcooled, it will tighten. Slow down and pay attention to your body. The preferred method for treating trigger points is to apply and maintain digital pressure on the trigger point. This procedure will result in the reproduction of the referred pain. This can be decreased using the “fold and hold” method. You merely shorten the muscle passively. Take caution not to shorten the muscle by contracting it actively. The abbreviation should be passive. A firm, heavy pressure is applied to the trigger point within bearable limits until the discomfort in the reference zone decreases. Be patient; in some circumstances, this can take several minutes.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body has energy channels known as meridians. The disease can develop as the body’s energy conduits malfunction.
When it comes to migraines, particular places on the meridian pathway can be stimulated to alleviate symptoms. In fact, we’ve already discussed several of them, including Gallbladder 21 when discussing trapezius trigger points, Gallbladder 20 when addressing suboccipitals, and Triple Warmer 17 while discussing the SCM. Let’s take a quick look at two more meridian sites and try some acupressure on them for symptom relief.
A Luo point is utilized to restore energy balance between meridians. Lung 7 is a lung meridian Luo point. It’s about 5 cm up from the wrist crease on the thumb side of the anterolateral forearm. It’s easy to find simply combining your hands at the thumb webs. The point is located between two tendons at the tip of the opposite hand’s index finger. The enormous eliminator, large intenstine 4 LI4 is located on the back of the hand by sliding your finger along the inside of the bone of the thumb (1st metacarpal) until it joins the bone of the index finger (2nd metacarpal). Back off roughly the breadth of your finger from that point and look for the fleshy hollow. Once you’ve located the location, pinch it with your index and thumb and massage it gently to moderately with clockwise circular pressure for several minutes. While structural integrity deterioration is a prevalent cause of migraines, it is not the sole one. The temporalis or pterygoid muscles can be affected by a dysfunctional tempo mandibular joint (TMJ), a dysfunctional ileocecal valve, upper cervical nerve roots compression, particularly C1-C3, and spinal subluxation are just a few areas that should be investigated if your migraines do not improve after treating your trigger points.
Furthermore, addressing trigger points without making lifestyle adjustments is like bailing water out of a boat with a hole in it. Investigate and implement ergonomic modifications to your daily routine to help correct health difficulties.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Acupressure should not be used to treat headaches: • As the sole treatment for illness; if you are ill, see a doctor • If you have a cardiac condition • 20 minutes before or after vigorous exercise, a large meal, or bathing • If the spot in issue is under a mole, wart, varicose vein, abrasion, bruise, cut, or any other skin break; • If you are pregnant, especially if you are more than 3 months pregnant.
Finally, consult a certified healthcare professional if your symptoms continue. I’ve seen more patients than I can count who had headaches for years only to be alleviated in a relatively short period of time when the source was found and remedied.
Schedule a consultation now. My clinic is located at Unit 907 AppleOne – Equicom Tower, Mindanao Avenue cor. Biliran St., Cebu Business Park, Cebu City. Call FORM AND FUNCTION CORRECTIVE CHIROPRACTIC at +639176700907 to book an appointment.