as a FORMER migraine sufferer, I have found what works for me and hope to help others...

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tritium_pie
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/14/2006 8:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, I'm a first time poster here.

I woke up this morning remembering a show about people who suffered brutally bad migraine headaches. I used to be one of those people. I used to get the nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light and sound as well as the utterly debilitating pain. Whole days would have to be spent in bed, with the curtains drawn tight, ice packs on my head and neck... in utter misery.

These days, I live a normal life free from migraine pain 99% of the time. And when I do start to get a migraine, it is easily fixed, and MUCH milder than before (no more lost days suffering in a dark room). Best of all, I don't need to take any medications.

Now, I hope to help others find the same freedom from pain. Please note: These are the solutions that worked for me. These may not help everyone, but for those of you who it might help, I *strongly* recommend you give my suggestions a try. I'll touch on several topics ranging from posture to diet to drugs.

First of all, there is a VERY strong correlation between subluxations in the upper verterbrae of my neck and the onset of neck/upper back tension and migraine headaches. A subluxation is where one or several verterbrae in the neck get rotated out-of-place. I can feel it jutting out slightly on one side or the other, and most tellingly if I turn my head to the left or right I'll hear "cracking" in my neck-- a clear indicator that my neck is out of alignment.

I've been to DOZENS of different chiropractors over the years, and there is a WIDE variance between the good ones and the not-so-good ones. Fortunately, I've found a GREAT one (and for those of you living in or near Mountain View, CA I'll be happy to forward his contact information). It's hard to describe what the difference is between a good and not-so-good chiropractor, but really your body will tell you by the results. For me, if I have a headache or even just some tension and visit my chiropractor, by the time I leave the office I am either 99% or totally pain free.

Specifically-- for me anyway-- the most immediate and effective chiropractic treatment I've received is a technique called an "occipital lift". I don't know the full biological reasons behind it, but apparenly a great deal of pressure-- which I believe to be dissolved gases?-- builds up in the fluid between my upper verterbrae (primarily the atlas), and my skull. (Has anyone ever felt pressure/pain in their finger joints and "cracked their knuckles" to relieve it? From my understanding, this is similar.) For the pressure in the joints of my upper spine, an occipital lift clears this up immediately. In fact, I have *literally* had a bad headache that I can tell is going to get worse, severe tension in my neck and shoulders... received an occipital lift and had the pain clear up immediately! I kid you not. Within a few hours, the muscular tension is gone as well.

Moreover, my chiropractor actually cares enough to take an interest in what is the root cause of my subluxations and working to prevent them in the first place. When I first visited him, he literally said, "You're in your early 30s-- still very young. You shouldn't need to come in here at all ideally, or maybe once in a great while-- every three months at most." (I was shocked, because many other chrios want you to come in every other day so they can maximize how much they bill you... and also typically will share little or no advice on how to prevent subluxations in the first place. As I said, I found a GREAT chiropractor-- someone who truly cares.)

Which leads me to the root cause of my subluxations (and probably many of yours) and how to prevent them and ideally, fix them.

Truly, the human body wasn't designed to *NEED* to have our spines manually adjusted periodically... but then again, we certainly weren't designed to suffer through debilitating migranes and have to hide in dark places for a day (or for some unfortunates, many days). I wonder: Other animals don't need to adjust each other-- somehow humans are doing things very different from other animals?

Well, for one thing, we sit in front of computers... for many of us, we do this all day at work and promptly go home and do it again. Without realizing it, many of us-- myself included-- allow our heads to jut forward when we're concentrating on what's on our screens. Many of us also have our heads forward when we walk. This is quite simply called Forward Head Posture (FHP) and it means that rather than having the weight of our heads resting squarely downward on our spines, we have our heads forward and our neck verterbrae are not aligned in a healthy, supportive curve. I don't know the physiology of it all, but I can say that since I've become aware of how I'm holding my head-- and my overall posture, for that matter-- I am able to keep my spine in better alignment.

(Also staring at a screen all day-- having a fixed focus on something a few feet in front of us-- exhausts the eyes. Our eyes were designed to focus near and far, not to stare at one thing all day. So... take breaks, get outside and do a bit of bird watching. Look at the farthest things you can see. As an eye exercise, try to read signs that are pretty far off. Basically, do anything to flex your eye muscles regularly-- the ones that stretch or relax your lens-- allowing you to focus on objects near or far. When my eyes get tired I start getting tense, and this can trigger headaches in me.)

How do you know if you're standing straight enough? A general rule is that your ear canal should be directly over the center of your shoulders. In your normal posture, stand sideways in front of somebody and have them check to see how far out your head juts. Now, keeping your head level, use your neck muscles to pull your head back until your ear canal is aligned with your shoulders. For many of you, this may feel uncomfortable, like you're having to keep your neck muscles tight. Your esophagus may feel slightly more constrained too. In all likelihood that's because years of having your head sticking out forward has stretched your esophagus a bit, and the strain in your neck muscles is likely because you're not used to keeping your head on straight. Truly, we all need to be aware of our body posture when we walk, sit, lay down, etc. Think about how your spine is aligned. You'll also walk taller, which generally looks good and confident anyway. :-)

But why do these vertebrae slip out of alignment so easily for some of us? Well let's be frank: We probably don't exercise nearly enough. It is the muscles of our necks and backs that keep our spines in alignment, with the healthy, natural curves they need to properly support us. Couple that with some of us being overweight, having our heads jutting forward, slouching and not being physically active... and it's no wonder that our spines go out of alignment.

So don't just go to a chiropractor, join a gym and exercise. Do neck and back exercises. Get your whole body in shape. Lose that gut! Jog, run, bike, swim! Any one of those will get you in better shape. (I've found that Muay Thai kickboxing is a GREAT way to get my body looking lean and mean.) Push yourself to get fitter, leaner, healthier. Not only will you help reduce the number of migraines you have, but you'll look better too and will probably live a longer, happier life! Do what you find fun but for crying out loud do something that gets your muscles working and your blood pumping for a good hour or more!

And while you're exercising, keep yourself well hydrated. In fact, I've found dehydration can also trigger migranes whether or not I'm working out. I carry two 1L bottles around with me that I fill up periodically throughout the day. I try to make sure that when I urinate it is never more than *slightly* yellowish, and definitely not dark or cloudy. If it ever is, I immediately go drink a glass of water. Make that a habit: yellow pee = drink a glass of water. Sip water throughout the day. Keep yourself hydrated.

Speaking of drinking fluids, cut back on your soda consumption! That stuff is absolutely terrible. The human body wasn't designed to try to eek some sort of hydration from a syrupy-sweet concoction of high fructose corn syrups, sugar, and artificial chemical flavorings. Don't get me wrong-- I very much like how a carbonated drink can cleanse the pallete, particularly when I'm eating... but now I make my own sodas. I've been drinking this particular drink for close to 5 years and I haven't grown tired of it. It's a very complicated recipe however, but here it is: Fill a glass slightly over halfway with seltzer water (I use the Safeway brand), add 100% grape juice (from Costco) and ice. Drink and enjoy. If it's a hot summer day, it's all the better. Also try it the next time you eat anything greasy. I've experimented a bit and used different juices and many tasted quite good, but for me-- grape soda is a de-li-cious alternative to the crap that multi-billion dollar soda companies spew out.

Don't get me wrong: I still drink the occasional Dr. Pepper or Pepsi, but I feel that drinking thse once in a while allows my body time to clean itself out. Speaking of which, try to cut way back on anything with either high fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated oils. Both of these are in practically everything, so they're dificult to completely avoid (unless you only shop at Whole Foods)... but so long as you're reading labels and actively avoiding these whenever you can, you'll be doing yourself a HUGE favor.

Another thing I've found I need to keep to an absolute minimum: pork. This kills me because bacon tastes good! Pork chops taste good! Ham is mmm mmm good! It's also an almost guaranteed headache in 1 hr or so. It took me a LONG time to put the correlation together, but like clockwork, if I eat a bacon cheese burger (or any other pork)... in 30 mins or so I can already feel the tension starting at the back of my head (typically where it meets my neck). In an hour or two-- depending on how much I've consumed-- I'll have a full bore throbbing migraine. So-- like sodas-- I try to keep my pork consumption VERY limited (more as a light garnish than a meal).

In fact, there's a few different foods I've found that can trigger a headache, and I've semi-casually tried to keep track of them. I know that fresh morel mushrooms fried in butter are one of the true great mycological delicacies of this world. But a plate full of them is like a swift kick in the skull. In fact, I'd prefer a kick in the skull, because that pain eases sooner than the headache from the morels.

I won't go into my list of foods (I'm too tired at this point anyway), but each one of you should keep track of what you eat and when you get headaches. If you ate something at lunch and found that a few hours later you had a migraine, sometime later try eating that same food again (but not as much) and see if you get the same results. I've cut back on my overall sugar intake and have had some good results too. See what works for you. And remember, there's no need to suffer: It's all about moderation... in some cases, extreme moderation. But hey, cutting back on a few things here and there is a very small price to pay for a lifetime free of migraines.

So ok, that's pretty much it from me. I can't be certain that everything I listed above is what helped me alleviate my migraine headaches, but I definitely DO feel that those suggestions I listed have improved my health and well-being overall, and some-- if not all-- have resulted in a dramatic reduction in my headaches.

If I had to rank them in their impact, I'd definitely say that exercise is #1, followed very closely by having a GREAT chiropractor-- both of these tie in closely with maintaining a good posture. Next most important is keeping myself well hydrated and reducing my soda consumption (except for healthy doses of delicious grape soda). Cutting out pork is a no-brainer for me, since I've seen time and again the direct correlation, but each of you may have different "trigger foods"-- so I highly recommend finding those. Cutting way back on high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated foods might be good for just my overall well-being, because I've certainly felt healtier and more energized since I've cut back on items containing these. Perhaps it's because from what I've read, these two are known to be shockingly bad for the body-- yet somehow they're included in so many foods??-- so it's a no-brainer to try to minimize my consumption of them.

If anything-- or any combination of things-- that I've suggested helps to minimize the number and severity of your migraines, then I am truly glad. Hopefully you'll be able to live a life nearly pain-free. These days, I very rarely get headaches, and if I do, they are MUCH milder than the migraines I used to get. So mild in fact that I take a Tylenol or aspirin as a last resort, and more often than not I simply take no pain medication at all. (And this is coming from someone who once even tried Demerol-- an opiate-based pain killer!-- to try to help my migraine pain.)

If after doing some or most of the things I've suggested you're finding that your migraines are gone or nearly so, I'd be happy to hear about it, so please feel free to send me an email! Those of us who've suffered through nearly constant migraine headaches (I used to get them sometimes every 3-4 days) know that NOBODY deserves to live a life of such utter misery.
Best of luck to all of you.

Sincerely,
Benjamin

Post Edited By Moderator (Annuk) : 10/14/2006 3:02:27 PM (GMT-6)


tritium_pie
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/14/2006 1:41 PM (GMT -6)   
I've been to some crappy rip-off chiropractors myself. Fortunately, early on I was able to find good ones... then when I've moved I then had a baseline from which to judge the others.

I'll say this very clearly: Some (many) chiropractors are charlatans and will do only the minimal amount of work-- or pretty much nothing at all-- so they can get you to come in more often and do what has happened to you John.

I'm no doctor, but if I had to guess... that low pressure weather system moving in causes the dissolved gasses between your vertebrae to expand and cause pressure on an already misaligned spine. All I can say is if you're ever in Mountain Vew, CA... let me know. I can atleast introduce you to a chiropractor who I personally know has given myself and my girlfriend more time to enjoy our life free from pain. IF it is a subluxation/spinal pressure issue that causes your headaches, I'm sure he can help. IF it is not, but rather due to other triggers (such as pork for me), then of course the chiropractor won't be able to help that.

Best of luck.

ttwarrior1
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 261
   Posted 10/14/2006 2:13 PM (GMT -6)   

anyone here know why my headaches are on my face next to my ears and by my temples. My doc says my ears are fine . He said i did have water behind my ears and sinus trouble. He prescribed me loratadine and it does nothing. My nose is fine.

 

He first said it was my bp being up but now that its down he says its the ziac bp med. Now he prescribes me verapamil even though my bp is down  to take with the ziac but i still have the headache.

It feels like pressure, stuffy head, pounding, Not sure if thats my heartbeat i here when i touch my head or thats what  a headache is.

 


Annuk
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 1308
   Posted 10/14/2006 3:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Benjamin,

I have edited your post taking out a reference to sex, and would point out that there are children that read this board.

Ann

hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 10/14/2006 8:32 PM (GMT -6)   
Benjamin,

Good advice. I don't know how you went from opium to nothing at all but you did - amazing! I have white-knuckled the "no meds" to get off the rebound cycle but I just can't stand the pain! I wish I could afford a good chiropractor. I'm presently on disability. However, I did get chiro and it didn't work. In fact, it might have made things even worse! I have been working really hard on my posture but you made me realize something. I've been working so hard to keep my shoulders back and realized that my neck is probably still forward. I think us migrainers have to try everything but how do you explain getting a migraine when the weather changes, when you smell strong perfume (YUCK!) or you are in a noisy place. That's life and I don't know how to avoid those things and it is sooo frustrating! Also, how did you determine your food triggers? I keep a diary and stay away from the big ones but for the life of me I can't figure out my food triggers. I know of a few but since I get migraines nearly everyday, I think it could be something that I'm eating. Either that, or hormones. At least you don't have to worry about that! Anyway, thank you for your advice.
K.

Post Edited By Moderator (Annuk) : 10/15/2006 8:39:25 AM (GMT-6)


Annuk
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 1308
   Posted 10/15/2006 8:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Hopefulmigrainer,

I have edited your post and would have emailed you but your addy is not available. I would be happy to explain the reasons why if you email me.

take care

Ann

hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 10/15/2006 9:02 AM (GMT -6)   
Anne - how do I update my profile to add my addy?

Annuk
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 1308
   Posted 10/15/2006 9:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi,

Go to 'Control Panel' and click on there, and follow through to adjust your profile where you want to.

take care

Ann

humbling pains eh
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 10/18/2006 7:48 AM (GMT -6)   
ttwarrior i have the same pains, including severe trigeminal pains.

wondering if you have tried oxygen ?
do you smoke? i do and am extremely in need of quitting.

dont know much its only been very recently tht i recieved help seeing as everyone in my home town tookl me for a crakhead.

must be something with the veins passing there on the side of my head.
have had great succes with oxygen.

was also told it might arterial arthritis or something...sorry hard to think right now its only been 6 days tht im starting to regain my sanity.

if you discover anything new info please please let me know eh.

peace......allen

ttwarrior1
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 261
   Posted 10/18/2006 4:46 PM (GMT -6)   
how do you get oxygen and no i have no health insurance and im broke but will do whatever i can i guess. No i dont smoke

chewy
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 10/19/2006 12:00 PM (GMT -6)   
I to have been diagnosed w/an atlas subluxation, my headache history contains 5 years of chronic daily PAIN!  I have been to several dr's thru out the years w/little to no relief.  I was rec. to another chiro by a friend of the family, after having prior treatment w/no success I was reluctant to once again go to another chiro, however I was feeling desprate so I fiqured I would give it a try.  My chiro is a specific chiro, which means he's a subluxation specialist.  After having my x-rays done I was told that all my years of pain and suffering was due to the first bone in my neck (atlas) compressing against my brainstem.  I was also told after 1 year of treatment and a bunch of money I would be pain free.  Here is my question to the original poster, it has been close to 3 months and unfortunatley I've not noticed any relief..SO HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?( My chiro claims to be patient this is normal) DOES IT SOUND LIKE I GOT RIPPED OFF?  I told him prior to spending all the money that I'll believe it when I see it, but he told me that is a normal repsonse and he has a 99 perc success rate.  So I spent the money and got really excited, now Im just scared that I got my hopes up for nothing.  How familiar are you w/ subluxations?  Any feedback would be appreciated.....Ty in advance

Nicky (coquitlam55)
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 505
   Posted 10/19/2006 1:29 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi chewy,
 
I'm not an expert in chiropractors, but I have been ripped off by a few. I am visiting one right now and it only took 3 visits for him to fix the spot in my neck. I don't know anything about atlas subluxations, but it sounds very suspect when you're visiting for 3 months and have had no improvement. Have you discussed this with your doctor? A medical professional would seem to me to be the best person to give you an opinion and refer you to someone.
 
Good luck.
Nicky
 
"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why its called the present."
I'm working everyday to overcome the pain and depression that comes from my chronic migraines.


tritium_pie
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/25/2006 9:37 PM (GMT -6)   
First and foremost, I need to reiterate that I am not a doctor or chiropractor, so I'm not claiming my reasoning is correct. All I know is that I've done what I stated above and have found dramatic and immediate reductions in the number, length and severity of my migraine headaches. That said, any "advice" or "ideas" I may provide below are my best guesses from the info I've gathered over the years. If my reasoning is not quite right, my apologies-- but I can absolutely speak from experience regarding the results... which have dramatically improved my quality of life. All that said, I'll go ahead and try to answer your questions...

hopefulmigrainer-- Regarding your lack of results after visiting chiropractor, I'm thinking it's either a) you are not subluxated or have built up pressure between your vertebrae, or b) the chiropractor you visited is one of the *majority* of unskilled chiropractors out there. >> EDIT: I will expand on my experiences with chiropractors-- what to expect, what to watch out for, etc.-- in my next posting. Pls just give me a few days or so. <<

As far as getting a headache from weather changes, I actually experienced that recently myself. I awoke at 4am, sat up and when I turned my head slowly to the left and right, I could hear crackling sounds in my upper vertebrae. From my (limited) understanding, these are tiny bubbles that form in the fluid between my upper vertebrae, and my best guess is that when the barometric pressure drops, the bubbles expand and cause pressure on nerves and sensitive tissues. I went in to my chiro that day, was adjusted and heard the loud "cracks" and afterwards, when I turned my head to the left and right, no more crackling sounds. Oh yeah, and no more headache or feeling of pressure. You heard me right: Instant Relief. (Mind you, when I have gone in for an adjustment with a full-blown migraine, it still takes some time for the pain to diminish, most likely because it takes time for the inflammation to go down.)

I also have experienced getting a migraine (or these days, the tension I used to get that preceeded a migraine... but typically no headache afterwards), when I smell particular chemical-type scents. The best example that I know of is getting into a car that has vinyl dashboards that has been baking in the hot sun with the windows closed. Oh man, that's an almost instant headache. So, what I typically do is of course to open the doors wide and let some fresh air in before I sit down. If it's my car, of course I always try to park in the shade, barring that I put up one of those reflective dashboard sunblockers, and I keep the windows slightly open (maybe 1/2" or so). And I still let the car air out before I sit in it.

There are other smells that cause my neck and upper shoulder muscles to tense up, and as far as why this leads to a headache, the way I imagine it is that my muscles are now pulling my vertebrae tighter together, increasing the fluid pressure and making the bubbles shift or further worsening any subluxation that is present-- the end result being strain and pressure on nerves and sensitive tissues, leading to a migraine. That's what I've noticed in myself anyway.

Regarding your food triggers, it'd be tough to figure those out if you're getting migraines nearly every day no matter what you eat. Heck, it could be a variety of things all working in conjunction. So rather than guessing what could be causing your issues, let me expand on what I've done to help deal with "trigger smells".

Fresh air-- I always try to have my living space airing out, windows atleast cracked open and atleast once a day I'll throw the windows and sliding doors wide open to clear out the stale air. All sorts of chemicals exist in our homes that our bodies did not evolve to constantly inhale and have to deal with cleaning out (if they can at all). For this same reason, I like to have a lot of plants in my home. (I've heard that "Mother-in-law's tongue" is a really good plant for cleaning out airborne toxins. Not sure what its proper name is.) And at work-- of course-- Go Outside. Get some fresh air, rather than breathing office air all day.

As far as hormones being the cause of your migraines, I have to disagree. We weren't designed to have our own bodies cause us to be debilitated by brutal pains in our heads. If it was hormonal, our ancestors would've starved to death or met the business end of a saber tooth tiger. So while your hormones may fluctuate throughout the day, I firmly believe there's something underlying that-- with the hormonal fluctuation-- gets exacerbated and leads to a migraine. Find that root cause, and you can have all the natural hormonal shifts of the human body without the pain.

Lastly, when you read my initial posting, are you actively working to eat and live a healthy life? Are you overweight? Do you exercise? Do you eat a lot of sweets? What about sodas or things with high fructose corn syrup? Do you drink enough water? I ask these questions not necessarily to hear your answer, but to get you to ask yourself point-blank. If you want to live happy you have to live healthy. Maybe it's time for a dramatic change in the "same ol" diet/lifestyle you live. Try eating strictly vegan for a while, for example. Living your lifestyle currently means you experience migraine headaches... so keep changing your lifestyle/routines for the better until the headaches go away. That's what I did, and it worked!

Best of luck!

- - - - - -

chewy (and others)-- I'll get around to responding to your posting sometime soon. I work at a startup company and it is very challenging mentally, leaving me quite exhausted at the end of the day (when I typically ride the train home and write on this forum). You might've noticed I try to take the time to compose a comprehensive reply to legitimate questions (that I haven't answered in some form earlier). All that said, if I was still suffering from my migraines I would NEVER be able to hold such a great job, no matter how mentally taxing it may be. :-)

hopefulmigrainer
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 902
   Posted 10/26/2006 12:01 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I'll have to read it again tomorrow. I'm not overweight. However, I'd like to lose 10. I walk vigorously everyday. I am trying hard to eat better - that's an area I can improve on. I'm not a junk food junkie though but I'm not a saint either. I don't have the money to try chiropractic again. I wish I could but I'm down and out financially right now and probably for some time to come. Why do chiropractors have to charge so much? Their practice typically requires that you come in 2-3 times per week at first. If they want to help people, why do they charge so much? I don't know too many people who can afford $150/week.
Talk2Kel 
DX: chronic migraine, cervical degeneration, depression/anxiety 
RX: Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Soma, Immitrex 
"You don't find out that God is all you've got until God is all you've got."


ttwarrior1
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 261
   Posted 10/26/2006 12:18 AM (GMT -6)   
mine is unlimited visits for 160 a month, i signed up yesterday but feel like im being ripped off so far.

First visit he pressed on my back twice, couldnt I have done that myself lying on a hard floor with a tennis ball or something underneath?

takemeaway
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/17/2007 7:39 PM (GMT -6)   
Benjamin
I have read your posts about the success that you have had with diet and chiropractic adjustments and would like to talk to you further about that.  I am currently getting adjustments of my atlas.    Lori           

Post Edited By Moderator (Annuk) : 1/21/2007 10:05:18 AM (GMT-7)

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