The truth about Headache and Migraines. Time to break the old myths and replace it with current research.
Migraine is a disabling condition to have. It is ranked the third most prevalent disorder in the world, according to the Global Burden of Disease Survey.
For centuries the old theory of the cause of headaches and migraines have been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted.
For instance, the common myth about what causes a migraine in Brisbane was thought to be due to dilatation or expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. This was proven false with numerous amounts of recent studies. Studies utilizing transcranial Doppler have found no significant differences in relation to blood vessels, between those who suffer and those who do not suffer from migraines. In fact several studies have shown that those who recovered from an episode of a migraine attack, continued to have their blood vessels expanded in their brains. 1. Ultimately then, studies have found no relationship between expansion of the blood vessels in the brain that causes migraines, and have found this old theory to be false. 2.
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Likewise, another old myth was that the cause of a migraine attack compared to the cause of tension-type headache, arise from different etiologies. New current research has found this to not be the case. Many Tension-type headache sufferers also experience a more severe headache, which resembles symptoms much like a migraine, and conversely, most migraine sufferers also experience a lesser headache, which resembles symptoms much like tenstion-type headache. This has led to believe that the etiology of headaches and migraines arise from a common dysfunction in the body. Medical authorities now regard tension-type headache and migraines to no longer be a separate condition with different causes, however, different presentation of the one condition. New studies have found the origin of headaches and migraines to be due to a SENSITISED BRAINSTEM located in the upper three cervical spine. The brainstem, and more importantly the trigemino-cervical nucleus filters information, which passes through to the brain. Due to the brainstem being sensitised any information passing through is amplified which the brain interprets this as a threat. Because the brain now interprets this information as if something is wrong with the body, it’s response is to alert the body and produce pain into the head. Those with a sensitised brainstem will interpret this as a headache or migraine. Depending on the amount of information that is passed into the brain will depend on how severe the pain is produced in the head.
Ultimately then, new research and studies have found headaches and migraines to be due to a dysfunction in the neck due to the brainstem being sensitised.
1. (Goadsby, P,J, (2009) The vascular theory of Migraine. A great story wrecked by the facts. Brain, 132 (1), pp 6-7.
2. Thomsen, l. L., Iversen, H.K., & Olesen, J. (1995). Cerebral blood flow velocities are reduced during attacks of unilateral migraine without aura. Cephalaglia, 15(2), 109-116.
3. Bakal D. A. and Kaganov, J. A. (1977) Muscle Contraction and Migraine Headache: Psychophysiologic Comparison. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 17 (5) pp 208-215.