Migraines: A complex disorder simplified

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August 20, 2016

I hear from many people that their Migraines are due to diet, stress or lack of oxgyen, but what most people do not understand is that Migraines are a complex disorder that incorporates multiple systems within the body. It is described as a disruption in blood vessel activity in the scalp and brain by some, and abnormal activity of pain processing areas of the brain stem and cortex by others. Let's agree that there is not only a component that is effecting the blood vessels, but one that also effects the nerves that control those blood vessels along with a general abnormal activity within the areas of the brain that control pain. A complex disorder. 

Chiropractic Neurology, or Functional Neurology, has been working towards a solution, as medications, surgery and other treatments are not long-term, and often not even short-term solutions. We start by looking at this from Neurological perspective and working backwards. We know what controls blood vessels, which are the individual nerves that are exiting the spine in the peripheral system, and Autonomic Nervous System(ANS) in the central (cortex/brain stem) system. We know that the ANS is very sensitive to changes in blood pressure (baroreceptors) and oxygen/carbon dioxide levels (chemoreceptors). We also know that the same areas of the brain stem that are related to control over this system, are also related to the spine and the muscles associated (vestibulospinal, retibulospinal, spinocerebellar, dorsal columns). We also understand that eye muscle activities are linked to these areas, affecting overall patterning in the brain stem. We understand that the regions of the base of the skull, when compressed, can cause nerve irritation, which according to our current understanding, contributes to abnormal blood vessel activity-Migraines.

That's a lot of information, and unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg, but what does it mean to us? It tells us that this is a complex system that does not just rely on one part to function, but all of its parts. The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. However, if you diminish enough function within the parts, the whole will falter. Thereby, our model is to look at all the possible contributors to the whole, or Migraine. We then devise a strategy to create change, or Neuroplasticity through multiple aveneues. Here they are:

1. Reduced Oxygen- A component of how well we breath, dictated by rib expansion and posture. The solution is to improve rib expansion and posture through Chiropractic Neurology, Physical Therapy, mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and ergonomic training

2. Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction- A component of the signaling, patterns and activation of the brain stem, vestibular system, cerebellum and cortex. The solution is to evaluate the functionality of the brain and its components and retrain function through Neuroplasticity training through Functional Neurology. 

3. Compression of nerves and blood vessels at the base of the skull (suboccipital region) that are contributing to migraine "throbbing" pain. The solution is to carefully evalute function of the thoracic, cervical and suboccipital regions of the spine and create appropraite, specific treatments to restore normal function. This often includes cervical decompression therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, Physical Therapy, postural restoration, Chiropractic adjustments. 

4. Nutritional contributions to Migraines. The solution is to remove the offending dietary products to limit Migraine activity. These are often dairy, dyes, sugars, processed foods, preservatives, et cetera.

It is of the utmost importance to understand that in order to change one thing, we must incoporate multiple strategies. It seems contradictive, but that's just how our Nervous System works, and it's what we understand in Functional Neurology. Neuroplasticity is defined as a change in the brain. Think about Neuroplasticity as a habit in the brain, if you've ever experienced a habit, you know that they can be difficult to break. It often takes a great amount of work, with mutiple strategies, but over time, it changes. You changed your brain. A carpenter doesn't bring one tool to the jobsite when he knows he has to build a house. They have multiple tools to perform one job. Our brain are no different, they can change, but you must attack it from multiple angles. The sum is only as good as its parts. 

The doctors at Portland Chiropractic Neurology have thousands of hours of training in Neurology that has allowed them to treat Migraines with much greater success than the past models. We invite you join us in our fight to eradicate Migraines and be one of the many people who have regained their life. 


Portland Chiropractic Neurology is located at 959 congress street, Portland, Maine, 04102. We are the only Chiropractic Neurology practice in the state of Maine.