I love when people talk with the utmost confidence about things they have never experienced. It truly is barbarity, human thought and behavior at its most basic and unremarkable. But this isn’t a philosophy class, this is a place for people to find relief from chronic, unrelenting pain and dysfunction. (Though, I will say a chronic issue for me is human incompetence so…)
As a chiropractor I know there are plenty of migraine myths and I’ve seen firsthand how suffering through chronic migraines is like hell on earth. As a sufferer, it can seem crazy that other people don’t understand the experience and minimize the agony and trauma. We’ve all had headaches so we think we understand the experience, however, our imaginations are not always as good as we believe them to be.
All of this is similar to when we were in the throes of puberty and no one understood what we were going through or experiencing. No one, not even our parents, realized that our lives were constantly so close to being over. Our parents definitely didn’t understand because they were horrible monsters.
For the luckiest among us that haven’t experienced a migraine, hopefully, this will clear up some of the misconceptions and engender some compassion for those that haven’t yet gotten this chronic neurological disease under control. For those that continue to survive migraines, hopefully reading this will be validating and encouraging.
Though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that migraines do not have to be the status quo. We work with patients every day to mitigate, manage, and avoid migraines altogether. Many of our patients have come to find that chiropractic care can reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.
Anyway, here are eight myths about migraines that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s Just a Headache
Yeah, and the Titanic was just a sailboat.
One of the most pervasive myths about migraines is that they’re just a normal headache. That’s sort of like saying Charles Manson was just an indie singer-songwriter, it’s ignorant and dangerous.
A migraine feels like excruciating pulsing or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.
I’m not done. They can also cause:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to bright light, sound, and touch
- Blurry vision
- Dizziness and fainting
- Irritability, trouble concentrating, and depression
- Trouble sleeping
- Numbness and tingling
- Temporary vision loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Food cravings
- Abdominal pain
- Comprehension issues
Migraines are the 6th most disabling disease in the U.S. with the entire experience lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. So yeah, tell me again that migraines are the same as that headache from the other morning.
It’s Only Temporary
Define temporary. Life is temporary. Migraines are like preparing for our mother-in-law to come over for dinner. It’s days of emotional prep, physical prep to get the house in shape, then we must endure the actual event in which time has stopped altogether, and then when she leaves it can take a while to recover. (This doesn’t refer to my mom by the way, she’s an angel. Hi mommy!)
Migraines have four stages that can last almost a week. Not everyone will experience every stage each time, but the option is always there.
- Prodrome – she invited herself over
One to two days before the onset of pain a migraine will send a warning shot across the bow consisting of constipation, mood changes, food cravings, increased thirst and urination, excessive yawning, and neck stiffness.
- Aura – she’s on her way
In case we weren’t already feeling like we were going crazy, alterations to vision, speech, sensation, and motor function, like flashing lights and pins and needles, can last up to an hour before the head pain begins.
- Attack – she’s here and she won’t leave
If left untreated, a migraine could last three days. Three. Days. Imagine the absolute worst headache pain, now add in sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, and lightheadedness.
- Post-Drome – she left a fire in her wake
After the attack subsides there can be lingering sensory issues and people can feel moody, exhausted, dizzy, confused, or even elated.
Sounds right to me.
No Aura, No Migraine
Only about 1/3 of people with migraines experience the accompanying aura.
Some people may suffer from migraines but never experience the aura. It’s not a competition, it still sucks.
Tylenol Should Be Sufficient
For some, a combination of over-the-counter pain relievers may work, though they bring a lot of side effects, some of which lead to more head pain. Imagine the never-ending cycle that can create.
There are many solutions in pill form to treat and prevent migraine pain, but the range of symptoms is too broad for a one-size-fits-all migraine cure. There are even more natural migraine solutions that don’t require putting foreign toxins in the body.
Even so, our focus should be on correcting the underlying cause of migraines and not just trying to cover up the pain. Not having to deal with migraines to begin with is the ultimate solution.
It’s Just an Excuse
There are so many better excuses to get out of something than a migraine. Excuses that affect other people are always better.
It’s foul and contagious. Case closed.
Migraines are not something that we can just push through. The sensory overload alone is enough to make us retreat to a cold, dark room for the rest of time. The cognitive dysfunction that results from migraines would make anyone useless in a professional or social environment. Not to mention the mood swings. We don’t need that around the investors.
Men Are Immune
Women indeed experience migraines at a higher rate than men, changes in estrogen levels are a common migraine trigger, but that doesn’t mean that men are immune. Men can be affected by the myriad of triggers that don’t involve hormone fluctuations.
This myth is bad because men are idiots.
I know because I am one. Men will experience migraines and be embarrassed to seek help because they think it can only happen to women. Or they will brush it off and assume that it’s just a tension headache.
It’s Just a Tension Headache
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Migraines and tension headaches share a common symptom of neck stiffness and pain, but it’s crucial to know exactly what we’re dealing with so that we can provide the best care possible.
Mistaking a migraine for a tension headache is wishful thinking. With a mild to moderate dull ache, tension headache pain pales in comparison. Tension headache sufferers can also experience tension, wink, in a band across the forehead and into the neck and shoulders. Migraines require much more aggressive care than a tension headache.
It’s Just a Sinus Headache
Stop trying to wish this migraine away.
Sinus headaches can cause similar symptoms as migraines because of doctor stuff that I won’t bore the readers with, but true sinus headaches are the result of infection or inflammation in the sinus cavities. Sinus headaches will produce founts of mucus, while nausea is more common with migraines.
Getting the correct diagnosis is the only way to get the most effective treatment that targets all the symptoms and works to correct the underlying issue. We work with patients to help them identify their triggers so they can better manage the pain while at the same time correcting any structural issues that may be leading to nervous system dysfunction.
Migraines are not a side effect of life. There are options besides hibernating for days on end and popping an endless amount of painkillers. There are ways to thrive in the face of a migraine attack and not be worried that another is just around the corner. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors to finally get the migraine relief that we deserve. Stop losing days and start gaining time to live an enviable life.