Headaches are a common kind of pain. Between 50% to 75% of adults between the ages of 18 to 65 will have at least one headache within the year. Different types of headaches exist, depending on their site of origin. It’s never the central nervous system or the brain that’s insensitive to touch or to pain, but rather the structures surrounding it such as the meninges, the cranium, the facial muscles, head and neck muscles or even the cervical vertebrae.

Let’s look more closely at the specific type of headache called the migraine. A migraine can be compared to a «hangover» and last hours or even days. Migraines affect more that two million Canadians each year. According to statistics Canada a migraine is three times more common in women (11.7%) then in men (3.8%).

What is a migraine?

A migraine is characterized by an attack that normally lasts anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Usually it only touches one side of the head and will pulsate. Migraine pain is often very intense. It frequently starts on one side of the head and can eventually effect the entire head. Migraine symptoms are often aggravated by light and noise and can be associated with nausea and vomiting. In certain cases, neurological troubles can also occur such as localized muscle weakness and changes in sensation.

Contrary to classic headaches, a migraine defines itself by the appearance of several physiological changes such as functional vascular imbalances (dilatation of extra or intracranial arteries)1 and nervous disorders (motor and sensation). These physiological changes can even affect person’s mood.

What are the causes?

The precise origin of a migraine is still under investigation, however several hypotheses have been given. Certain factors or lifestyle choices can worsen or provoke migraine symptoms. Alcohol, especially red wine and certain foods such as chocolate or monosodium glutamate (meat tenderizer) can be the root cause of migraines. Besides your diet, other factors such as stress and genetics could also be causal factors.

From a scientific point of view, it is believed that regular exercise can help to reduce the frequency of migraines. Beta-endorphins, naturally secreted by the brain, act as painkillers and would be increased during regular sport activities. Nevertheless, it’s certain that a good diet, adequate hours of sleep per day, stress management and of course, regularly practicing a sport are essential elements to physical and psychological health. As the saying goes, a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Home remedies for migraines

  1. Lie in a dark, quiet room;
  2. Apply ice to the nape of your neck;
  3. Put pressure on the painful areas of your neck;
  4. Massage gently neck musculature to reduce the intensity of pain

Un peu de recherche

1 Bates, p. 66-67.
2 Vernon, p. 162.
3 Plaugher, p. 362.
4 Vernon, p. 162, 164.
5 Plaugher, p. 362.

La revue systématique de données probantes issues de la recherche établilt l’efficacité clinique des thérapies manuelles pratiquées par les chiropraticiens pour le traiter les maux de tête d’origine cervicale :

– Clinical effectiveness of manual therapy for the management of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions: systematic review and update of UK evidence report. Clar C, Tsertsvadze A, Court R, Hundt GL, Clarke A, Sutcliffe P. Chiropr Man Therap. 2014 Mar 28;22 (1):12.

– Are non-invasive interventions effective for the management of headaches associated with neck pain? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. Varatharajan S, Ferguson B, Chrobak K, Shergill Y, Côté P, Wong JJ, Yu H, Shearer HM, Southerst D, Sutton D, Randhawa K, Jacobs C, Abdulla S, Woitzik E, Marchand AA, van der Velde G, Carroll LJ, Nordin M, Ammendolia C, Mior S, Ameis A, Stupar M, Taylor-Vaisey A. Eur Spine J. 2016 Jul;25(7):1971-99