Migraines: Peter Goadsby discusses preventive drugs
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Top chiropractor Christian Caswell explained why migraines and neck pain can appear in tandem. “The upper cervical spine (upper neck) and the surrounding structures are intricately related,” he said. “Misalignment to the upper cervical region can change cerebrospinal fluid, blood flow and tightness in the local musculature.” While Caswell recommends booking an appointment with a chiropractor if you experience headaches and neck pain, he shared three exercises you can do in the moment when pain strikes.
The first is called the side neck bend, then there’s the chin tuck, and the neck extension.
Side neck bend
Described as a “gentle stretch that releases tension in the neck and upper back”, Caswell instructs to:
Keep your spine neutral, relax your shoulders, and rest your arms alongside your body.
- Lower right ear toward the right shoulder.
- Extend left hand toward the floor, then flex fingers upward.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
“This stretch reduces tension in your neck muscles,” said Caswell.
To do the chin tuck, you must:
- Sit up straight and tall.
- Gently push your chin down towards your neck.
- Hold for five seconds,
- Relax for a few seconds
- Repeat three to five times.
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Caswell added: “The neck extension is a great exercise for removing tension and can ease migraine symptoms.”
In order to do a neck extension properly, you need to:
- Sit up straight at your desk
- Gently move your head backwards so you are looking upwards to the ceiling
- Hold for about five seconds
- Then return to the starting position
- Repeat five to 10 times.
“These are to be done lightly and not causing any pain,” cautioned Caswell.
“The goal of these are to gently relieve muscular tension; these will not get to the root cause of the issue, but they may give some short-term relief.”
The NHS pointed out there are usually triggers that lead to migraines.
Triggers can range from feelings of stress and anxiety, to poor posture and poor-quality sleep.
While some people might have a genetic disposition to get migraines, it can help to keep a journal to document when they occur.
Migraines are thought to be “the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affected nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain”.
Treatments for migraines
Most people find lying in a darkened room can help ease a migraine attack.
Understandably, this approach is not always practical, so other measures include taking painkillers or triptans.
Triptan medicines are specific to migraines, but they can lead to side effects such as:
- Warm sensations
- Feelings of heaviness in the face, limbs or chest.
Doctors tend to recommend triptans if migraines do not respond well to painkillers.
To ease neck pain, you can take painkillers, use heat or cold packs on the neck, do neck exercises, and/or use a low, firm pillow to sleep on.
If the pain and stiffness doe not resolve within a few weeks, you are advised to see your doctor.
To help prevent neck pain, it helps to sit upright, with your shoulders rolled back and down.
Chiropractor Christian Caswell works on behalf of Top Chiropractic.
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