While headaches can be uncomfortable, migraines are debilitating. The sensitivity to light and sound. Nausea and vomiting. An intense throbbing in your head that can last for hours or days. The symptoms can be so severe that, as the Mayo Clinic puts it, “all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down.”
Like back pain, treating migraines can be difficult because they can be triggered by many different things. Here are a few reasons you may be suffering from migraines:
Weather. Quick changes in the barometric pressure can cause a migraine.
Stress. Intense demand from yourself and others. Intense feelings.
Diet. Some people have reported migraines triggered by foods high in sodium or after drinking alcohol, especially wine. Caffeine, in particular, has been associated with migraines.
Genetics. Up to 90% of those that suffer from migraines have a family member who also has them.
Sleep. Both too much and not enough sleep have been known to cause migraines. (Don’t worry about one night here or there; doctors say migraine sufferers should focus on keeping a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day.)
Hormones. Sorry, ladies: Women are three times more likely to have migraines than men. It’s thought to be a result of hormonal fluctuation, especially with estrogen.
Muscular tension. Tightness in the head and neck has been linked to migraines. (Be aware, though, that this could also be a sign of cervicogenic headaches, especially since the symptoms are often similar to migraines.)
While clearly there are factors that you can control and factors that you can’t control, when migraines are caused by muscular tension, physical therapy may be a real help. Treatment may include trigger point therapy, posture re-education, and joint or soft tissue mobilizations. In addition, your physical therapist may work to increase the range of motion in the neck and upper spine, and possibly the jaw -tension areas most frequently associated with migraines.
If you suffer from migraines regularly, we encourage you to talk your doctor about what could be causing the headaches. He or she can work with you to figure out the best possible treatment plan, whether it involves changes in your diet, adding medication, or working with a physical therapist.