If you have migraines, you know they are much more than just headaches. These neurological attacks can provoke a host of unpleasant symptoms and leave you in bed for a day or more. You’ll do anything to get relief.
Fortunately, new therapies offer better chances for you to get to feeling better more quickly. Here are seven unexpected ways to treat and prevent your migraine.
1. See Your Dentist
Does your migraine pain seem to make your teeth hurt? Part of the problem lies in your trigeminal nerve. This 3-part fiber sends pain, touch and temperature sensations from your face to your brain. The mandibular nerve — one of its three branches — helps you to chew, accounting for the signature tooth pain you might experience with attacks.
Another problem you might have is bruxism. You might unconsciously grind your teeth or clench your jaw with tension, triggering your trigeminal nerve and bringing on migraine pain. Botox therapy can help relax the muscles that cause you to stiffen your chin. You could suffer less head pain with a bonus — mitigating your bruxism could save you from needing expensive crowns or losing teeth from breakage.
2. Ice Your Neck
More than half of all migraine patients experience neck pain as part of their attacks. Sometimes, it resigns itself to the base of your skull. At other times, it may spread down one or both shoulders.
If your neck also feels warm when you get an attack — or if sitting by a sunny window triggers pain — try placing an ice pack on the back of your neck. Doing so can ease inflammation building up from cerebrospinal fluid changes at the base of your skull. It also sends cooling waves up your vagus nerve, potentially helping to stave off the worst of your agony.
3. Strike a Pose
The last thing you want to do when you have a migraine attack is to go to a vigorous Ashtanga class. Sweat is one thing — other bodily fluids, like vomit, are quite another.
However, some forms of yoga, such as gentle yin, can help ease migraine pain. Best of all, you can do them right in bed. You don’t have to stumble to the studio if hemiplegic attacks cause temporary paralysis or plain old pain makes movement a nightmare.
One move to try uses pressure points. Migraine pain typically strikes one side of your head. Lie on your belly and bend the knee of the leg on the side where you have agony so that you can reach your foot.
Find the spot between the pinky and fourth toe where your toes connect to your foot. Hold gentle pressure on that point with the same hand as the bent leg. With your other hand, reach over and apply the same touch to the base of your skull, where it dips in toward your vertebrae. Hold until you feel relief.
4. Blend a Cuppa
You might initially scoff at the idea of using herbal tea for tough migraine pain, but most of the prescriptions and OTC remedies you use originate from plants. Practitioners believe that you absorb more of the good stuff from raw herbs due to the various phytonutrients and antioxidants you receive along with the active ingredients.
Turmeric is a great one to try — add a dash of black pepper to increase the bioavailability of the magic curcumin by 2,000%. White willow bark is another excellent anti-inflammatory that’s similar in chemical structure to the active ingredient in Excedrin.
Because stress can also trigger migraines, add some adaptogens and anti-anxiety herbs. Chamomile, lavender and valerian all gently calm you, and ashwagandha can help your body withstand daily stressors — like the infuriating hum of those overhead work fluorescent lights.
5. Enjoy Some Candy
If it’s legal where you live, you might want to add one more herb to your regimen: cannabis. In one study, those who used edibles — or “medibles” as they’re known among enthusiasts — experienced six fewer headache days a month than those with placebo. If you have chronic migraines, you know how vital it is to recapture that lost time.
However, some states do not approve medical cannabis use for migraine pain just yet. If you’re considering applying for your card, choose your licensing facility with care — many will find a way to qualify you under chronic pain statutes.
6. Try Biofeedback
Biofeedback entails using EEGs and other sensors to detect changes in your brain waves, body temperature and heart rate. It can help you learn to control some of the physiological processes that can increase migraine pain. For example, a pounding heart from nerves only exacerbates the throbbing in your temples.
Biofeedback has an efficacy rating of three on a one-through-five scale for easing chronic pain. If you notice that your attacks correlate with increased stress, this method may work for you.
7. Go Nutty
This last tip falls more under the preventative category than the abortive one — but you know you need a 2-pronged approach if you have crippling migraines. Many studies suggest that magnesium supplementation eases migraine pain and the depression that so often accompanies it. One study showed that routine supplementation could slash migraine attack frequency by over a third.
Nuts and seeds are the best natural sources of this mineral. Your body does tend to absorb nutrients better through foods, so start tossing a handful of pepitas and almonds in with your lunchtime salad. Snack on mixed nuts as a nutritious alternative to greasy chips that provide few if any antioxidant benefits.
Treat Your Migraine These Seven Unexpected Ways
Migraines are among the top ten most disabling disorders on the planet. Treat your head pain and associated symptoms in these seven unexpected ways.