Headaches come in many varieties, of which migraines are the worst. The “Classic” Migraine is often, but not always associated with an aura, nausea, and forehead pain of a crushing variety.
The aura is a period of minutes to hours when one experiences “flashing lights” known as a scintillating scotoma. One’s visual field and focus is compromised – it is best to rest or get to a chiropractor within the “golden hour.” I have found that if a patient is adjusted within an hour of onset, the migraine can be averted. Unfortunately, NSAIDs often have a limited impact. Nausea and sometimes vomiting may occur – frequently an individual that is suffering just wants to crawl into a bed in the dark and be left alone. By now you can see how disruptive and unproductive this can be, especially since they can last for up to two or three days!
I’ve already mentioned my ideal for acute care, but if you don’t have access to a good chiropractor, you might try a yoga shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana), or “The plow” pose (halasana). If those are too acrobatic, perhaps alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodana). Yoga and yogic breathing techniques can be helpful IF one has a good teacher and knows what they’re doing. (This may be presented in a future blog post)
Some find warm or cold presses beneficial-follow your intuition. Here are 3 acupoints which may add relief:
- Dorsal aspect in the web of the thumb, closer to the pointer finger, bilaterally for face/forehead pain
- On the border of the palm, where the transverse wrist crease meets the back of the hand nearest the pinky finger
- For nausea, Looking at your palm, press about 2” below the wrist crease
Gently feel around for tenderness, press and hold for about 25-30 seconds, then move on.
The absolute best method of dealing with these types of headaches is prevention. This is where a professional can be especially helpful in saving time and money. However, the most common offenders are sugar, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, food additives, preservatives, seasonings, nuts, caffeine, alchohol, stress, previous head injury, etc. I’m sorry to say that just about anything can trigger these headaches, from overeating to fasting. The best advice I can offer in this circumstance is to keep a food and activity diary and take note of what was eaten or done in the 24-48 hours prior to onset. Then analyze the trends to find what the common factor might be and avoid that trigger. Women, in particular, may find a link to their hormonal cycle, for example. (If this is the case, it will be addressed in a later blog.) See if frequency, duration, or intensity diminish. The process is slow, time consuming, requires intuition and consistent effort, but is the least expensive for DIY individuals.
Headaches lasting more than a couple of days, “worst headache ever,” or headaches with other neurological symptoms like dizziness, vision problems, incoherent speech patterns, paralysis of any sort, seizures, etc. can be signs of potentially life-threatening disorders – seek emergency services immediately.