The topic of migraine headaches is vast. Anyone who suffers from migraines on a regular basis – knows they cannot be summed up in sentences and words.
Triggers and underlying causes can be many: hormonal and cyclical shifts; caffeine and alcohol; strong perfumes and odors; foods like baked yeast, strong cheeses, and nuts; changes in weather; mental and emotional tension and stress; – sometimes the cause seems to be idiopathic and unknown.
Although the triggers mentioned above can seem to set a migraine in motion, the mechanism itself is poorly understood by the medical community. There is likely an arterial spasm at the root of many migraines which may be dictated by hormone levels in the body.
The migraine itself can completely remove a person from their lives for hours to days. Some migraines are relentlessly painful, yet just under an invisible line such that a person can, barely present, take part daily activities. Other’s make it impossible to leave a dark room. Migraines can separate people from their families, their friends and workplace, from themselves – while they’re happening – and for some people migraines are happening quite frequently.
People who have been perpetually suffering from migraines often go on a journey of exploration through the vast strategies for coping, managing, and finding root cause. It seems there is not one answer. Some people use dietary restrictions, and supplements for hormone balancing to work with their migraines. Others find maintenance strategies in pharmaceutical medicine. Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs, Homeopathy, and Massage are just a few modalities some people use for relief, and peeling the layers toward root cause. Other forms of treatment may include stress management, and learning to calm the mind itself on a daily basis.
Hormonal imbalances are often present when a migraine surfaces, which can cause vaso-constriction / dilation – disturbing blood flow to the brain. This can be detected and balanced with the help of a Naturopathic Doctor.
We at Broadway Wellness are organized around a group of core Registered Massage Therapists. We have taken interest in learing about some techniques and strategies that involve manual therapy in particular, that have been known to give relief to migraine sufferers.
What manual therapists have to contribute is their attuned palpation skills in assessing where tethered, bound, gathered, or stretched and strained structures are situated – in the head, neck, and base of the skull in particular.
Every structure in our entire body, right down to each individual cell membrane, is lined with connective tissue called fascia. It’s designed to protect and package structures, and to promote slide and glide between structures situated next to each other.
Arteries, veins, nerves, muscles, tendons, the brain itself , cranial bones, membranes – all structures in the neck and head – must have freedom to move in relation to one another, or they are at risk for decreased function, and pain from stretching and pulling associated with being adhered to surroundings rather than having freedom of movement.
Restrictions in connective tissue involving structures in the head and neck may pose an additive factor in promoting the mechanism behind migraine headaches in some cases.
Also, the pituitary gland, cradled within the cranial vault (housed within the sphenoid bone) – is primarily responsible for regulating your hormones – some of which are responsible for arterial constriction and dilation.
In the case of frequent migraine sufferers – checking that the bones and membranes housing the pituitary gland are giving it freedom of movement is worthy of consideration, particularly if other strategies have not been working. Structure affects function: structures free and mobile can in essence perform their functions optimally, whereas structures tethered and bound cannot. When the function of a structure is to balance hormone production in the body, it is crucial the structure is free to do so.
Gently assessing and mobilizing the fascial constraints in the neck, and cranium using gentle myofascial and cranial sacral techniques can create profound change and relief in the body and life of a person struggling with migraine headaches.
If you’re managing migraines in your life, and looking for options for treatment – manual assessment and treatment with a Registered Massage Therapist trained in some of the techniques mentioned above, including myo-fascial release and cranial sacral therapy, may be an avenue for you to explore. Many of the Vancouver Registered Massage Therapists at Broadway Wellness have been trained to use these techniques. Exploring triggers, management strategies, dietary changes, and hormone level and balance with a Naturopathic Doctor, such as Dr. Krista Moyer or Dr. Mark Cseszko at Broadway Wellness, can be extremely valuable and pertinent as well.