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Migraine Treatment in Singapore

If you have been experiencing severe, recurring headaches that are localised, you are probably having a migraine. Typically triggered by various factors such as diet, stress, and medication etc, migraines are different from your typical one-off headaches. Fortunately, there are  various preventive measure and treatments for migraines.

Read more about what a migraine is, what causes migraines, and how chiropractic can help

What is a migraine?

A migraine is different from a regular headache. Migraine episodes are typically severe (throbbing pain), localised (pain in a particular area), and recurring.

An episode usually occurs in stages and can last for several days. Phases of migraines are:

  • Prodromal phase: Pre-migraine warning signs may appear. These vary from person to person, but may include symptoms such as neck stiffness, irritability, depression, lethargy, mood changes, and constipation.
  • Aura phase: These typically involve your vision and you may experience tunnel vision, see flashes of light, black dots, hallucinations, or in worst cases, not being able to see at all. You might also hear ringing in your ears, have tingling sensations, or have difficulty speaking.
  • Attack phase: The onset of your migraine might begin dull, but will grow into a throbbing pain in one side of your head. It typically worsens during physical activity, and can last from a few hours to a couple of days.
  • Postdromal phase: This phase swings both ways – you might feel extremely exhausted after the attack, or feel euphoric (you survived another attack!).

What causes migraine?

The exact causes of migraine are unknown and difficult to pinpoint (unfortunately). They are typically thought to be caused due to changes in nerves, blood vessels, and chemicals in the brain. Genes may also be another risk factor causing migraines.

While the cause of migraines is unknown, there are certain triggers which include changes in:

  • Hormones (pregnancy, period, ovulation)
  • Stress
  • Changes in your diet
  • Food high in caffeine, MSG, nitrates
  • Environment (loud noises, bright lights, strong smells)
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Medications

What are migraine symptoms?

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The International Headache Society has an easy “5-4-3-2-1” approach to diagnose migraines without impact to vision.

If you have had:

  • 5 or more attacks, each with the
  • Duration of 4 hours to 3 days
  • A headache with at least 2 of the following symptoms:
    • Unilateral location (on one side)
    • Pulsating
    • Moderate to severe pain worsened by activity
  • And experience at least 1 additional symptom during the headache:
    • Vomiting and/or nausea
    • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
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Migraine vs Headaches

A migraine episode is different from a usual headache. While a migraine and a tension headache (the most common type of headache) share similar symptoms, a migraine typically is associate with more symptoms not share by tension headaches.

You will experience both moderate pain and ache for a migraine and headache. However, a migraine progresses further to pain that is

  • Pounding or throbbing
  • On one side of the head
  • Causes a hindrance to your daily activities
  • Nausea that leads to vomiting
  • Aura
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound

What is the best thing to do for a migraine?

Since the cause of migraines is unknown, it is important to understand and identify your triggers. Keep a log of your migraine episodes, noting down:

  • Date and time when the pain started
  • Duration of the headache
  • Duration of sleep you had previously
  • Activities you had when the pain started
  • What you consumed in the last 24 hours
  • What you did that alleviated the pain

Other home treatments include:

  • Pain relievers and medication (e.g. triptans)
  • Rest

What are alternative migraine treatments?

Besides medication, other drug-free forms of treatment that could treat migraines include:

  1. Chiropractic – if the cause of your migraine is due to a physical misalignment in your cervical spine, improving its alignment is the only solution. Panadol and other pain killers are only temporary “quick fixes”.
  2. Acupuncture or acupressure – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) categorizes migraine as a shaoyang headache (a wind syndrome of the head). Physicians will target a few acupuncture points to treat migraines and promote circulation of qi.
  3. Biofeedback therapy – biofeedback is a relaxation method that helps you learn to control over involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. This could help with migraines triggered by physical reactions.

Should I try acupuncture or chiropractor for migraines?

Acupuncture utilizes the knowledge of pathways between the body’s meridians to increase nervous system communication and pain or abnormalities caused by qi blockages.

Chiropractic focuses on understanding if your spinal alignment (typically in the cervical region) is causing a nervous system interference, and the resulting migraine.

While acupuncture and chiropractic are different schools of thought, they both can help with migraines. At Chiropractic Singapore, we will typically require X-rays to diagnose your condition and understand your cervical spine alignment. If you haven’t tried chiropractic before, we’re here to help.

When should I do a check-up for my migraine?

If your pain has been persisting for more than a few days and is not responding well to home treatment or medications, you should come in for a check-up. It is important to address the root cause of your pain to prevent it from worsening.

At Chiropractic Singapore, our chiropractors are trained to understand if your spinal misalignment is causing your migraine, and recommend if and how chiropractic can help.

Note: The above information is not a substitute for a diagnosis or any form of medical care. Symptoms and treatments differ from person to person, and one should consult a chiropractor for an accurate diagnosis and recommendation.

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