In an unmapped region of South America, there is a clearing that leads to a mysterious labyrinth of underground tunnels. At the center of this maze is a room with the secret to a migraine-free life. This elusive prize is guarded by booby traps – poisonous darts, infinite chasms, and a massive boulder on a track meant to flatten anyone who attempts to remove the charm. To make it out alive takes courage, strength, and the feeling that anything is better than the crippling pain of a migraine. In fact, most people would do anything to avoid migraines they’re experiencing.
In addition, I can’t count the times that patients have told me they’ve gone on this harrowing adventure to find migraine relief only to return empty-handed and covered in unidentifiable bug bites. It continues to amazing me the lengths that people will go to find migraine relief.
Migraine pain is debilitating and can be unrelenting, to put it tactfully. Preventing and treating migraines can be a bit tricky given that they remain such an elusive menace. Employing these management techniques at the first sign of migraine symptoms may be the lifesaver so many of our patients have been crusading for.
Keep a Diary
This isn’t the diary many of us have had before. The cover is not bedazzled with pictures of New Kids on the Block or a training ground for the newest Jelly Roll acquisition. We don’t have to hide it under a floorboard and worry that our little brother will use it for extortion or blackmail. It’s not filled with secrets we wouldn’t want even our 35-year-old self to read.
This diary is for something much sadder, it’s a migraine diary. Being an adult is such a thrill. Migraine triggers vary from person to person, so it’s critical that we identify which triggers we are most susceptible to and find ways to manage them. Whether our trigger is…
- Certain foods
- Hormone changes
- Sleep deprivation
- Weather changes
- Bright lights
- Skipped meals
…the best way to anticipate the impending doom of a migraine is to track these triggers, identify patterns, and get in tune with our body so we know what to expect. This could literally be a spiral notebook from CVS or the notes app – celebrities use it for their social media musings, normal people use it to remember that they need to get toilet paper after work or it may be a stressful evening. Entries for the migraine diary may include:
- Consumption of food and beverages
- Time of meals
- Exercise schedule and routine
- Weather conditions
- Identifying migraine symptoms and when they occur
- Menstrual cycles
- Stressful events or episodes of strong emotions
Having a detailed log can make it easier when we have a discussion about strategies to manage the symptoms and relieve migraine pain.
Make a Schedule
Nothing is sexier than a schedule. 1/12 of the population gets riled up over schedules and they were all born between August 21st and September 21st. A consistent routine, however, when it comes to…
- Sleep habits
…is a great tool to identify, manage, and, even, avoid migraine triggers. As we begin to identify our particular triggers we can adjust the routine accordingly. For example, if we know that stress is a big trigger for us we can dramatically quit our jobs and move to the South Pacific to work at a company that makes sandals.
Sticking to a schedule may not be the easiest task, especially when the world has literally been turned upside down and inside out, but again this is where our phones might be handy. Set alarms, make a google calendar and share it with everyone in the office. Set the expectation that health and productivity are inextricably linked, therefore sacrificing health is not an option.
BTW, health and productivity are inextricably linked. Migraines cause 113 million lost workdays every year, just in the U.S.
Learn the Signs
Every doctor, and those that watched enough ER they consider themselves doctors, will tell you that the earlier a migraine attack is treated the better. Being able to identify those “prodromal” symptoms will help jumpstart a strong defense. Premonitory migraine symptoms include:
- Mood changes
About 40%-60% of migraine sufferers experience these symptoms one to two days before an attack. 20% of sufferers will experience an aura about an hour before. They can be verbal, causing speech and language problems or visual, causing flashes of light, blind spots, and vision changes. Tingling in the hands and face are not out of the question.
When these symptoms occur:
Keeping a detailed record of migraine triggers may seem like the actions of a nerd, but I would rather be a nerd than in pain. Also, nerds are famously smarter than the rest of us.
The faster we recognize the onset of symptoms the faster we can turn to natural migraine solutions. If we don’t want to go through it alone, we’re always here to help patients manage and mitigate symptoms.
Not one minute ago this person, I’m not sure who they are exactly, felt the beginnings of a migraine coming on. The hard work of migraine defense.
“God grant me the serenity…”
…to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Life is wonderfully unpredictable, but that can drive some of us mad. As much as we try to control the situations in our lives there are more times than not where we are not in the driver’s seat. We are able to control our responses. We can establish good habits that help us avoid our particular triggers. We can familiarize ourselves with the warning signs. We can spring into action with natural solutions that relieve migraine pain fast.
One of the best things we can do is be proactive with our care. Stress is one of the most common chronic migraine triggers, these days that means there is a trigger around every corner. Practicing stress management techniques like meditation and exercise will help to decrease the likelihood of an attack.
We use chiropractic care to work with patients to develop a migraine action plan to help keep things under control when the insanity of a migraine strikes. We also work with patients to correct structural abnormalities that may be interfering with the nervous system in order to reduce the frequency and severity of each migraine episode. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. We shouldn’t have to spend our lives in a dark, quiet room with a cold towel wrapped around our heads. There’s a way for us to be out in the madness of the world, consuming all the chocolate and red wine we like, living our best pain-free lives.