Co-authored by Alexis Crase, Development Coordinator, and Harsha Ramchandani, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Chronic migraines, which are defined as 15 or more headaches a month, can be downright debilitating. If you don’t personally experience migraine headaches, just ask someone who does and they’ll likely agree with this statement. Severe and throbbing pain around the eyes, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea – these are just a few of the symptoms associated with chronic migraines – and migraine symptoms can last anywhere from four hours to three days, which goes to show just how much migraines zap your energy and focus.
If you’re one of the 30 million people in the United States who suffers from chronic migraines, here are a few ways to help manage the pain without medication.
- Find a calm environment
- At the first sign of a migraine, retreat from your usual activities if possible.
- Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
- Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
- Sleep well
- Eat wisely
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
If those methods don’t work, here are some alternative methods:
Acupuncture, the use of thin needles to trigger pressure points, has been known to reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches for many, including several Tri-City Health Center patients. According to practicing acupuncturists, the use of needles on pressure points within the body restores the flow of energy and stimulates various systems within the body, generating a healing response. The needles used in acupuncture stimulate the nerves in the body, releasing hormones such as endorphins, which trigger a response from your body. This immune and circulation system stimulation is what proponents of acupuncture claim relieves migraines and tension headaches.
- Botox Injections
In addition to treating wrinkles, Botox can be used to treat frequent, recurring migraine and tension headaches. When administered to the head, neck, and shoulders, Botox has the ability to eliminate pain and stiffness from migraines by blocking the sensory nerves that relay pain messages to the brain and muscles, making them less sensitive the migraine pain. Although this treatment must be repeated to maintain results, many migraine sufferers see results soon after their first treatment, reducing their pain significantly.
- Lifestyle Changes:
There are numerous risk factors that can lead to migraine headaches, such as: depression, anxiety, other pain disorders, obesity, asthma, snoring, stressful life events, head and neck injuries, dehydration, caffeine usage, and medication overuse. For some sufferers, making changes to these categories has made the difference. If you have chronic migraines, try drinking more water, eating healthier, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep; doing so may help reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, as well as help your general health.
With these tips, living a migraine-free or limited life is attainable.
If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic migraines, call our appointment line today to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care or acupuncture clinicians. (510) 770-8040