Do you have migraine issues, currently dealing with migraines, or maybe know someone else who has migraine headaches? We are going to share the three most common things we see in our office that we’ve found to be the most common things causing migraines in the last 10 years of practice. These three causes of people’s migraine headaches are important to understand so you can finally get some answers on the root cause.
As a natural doctor for the last 10 years, I typically see weekly, even daily, new patients coming in with migraine headaches. The most recent patients all had the same thing they were dealing with. Some patients have been to several different doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, and physical therapists to find out what was causing their migraines. Sadly, they were left with no answers. Today, you will not only get answers for potential causes of your migraines but also how to alleviate (if not eliminate) this problem.
These three things may not be the only reason for migraines; they are the most common causes we see. There’s a lot more to migraines most of the time. Sometimes it’s a gut issue or hormonal issue. Sometimes it takes investigation to lead you on a path to become your own health expert while finding out your root cause. What will help you do this is by educating yourself on how your body works, taking the right test, and finding the right doctor that’s going to help you. We are here to help you do this.
Three Main Causes of Migraine Headaches
1. Alar Ligament Damage
The upper part of your neck has a bone called the atlas which is that top bone in your neck where the skull sits on top of (kind of how a globe sits on an atlas). In that atlas, there’s a second bone called the C2 bone. The C2 bone in your neck has a den that the atlas sits on. This is how your neck and head rotates. That dens and atlas have to be connected. They’re connected on each side of the dens with a ligament called the alar ligament. So when you tilt your head it gives you stability when rotating or tilting your head. It’s a very common ligament to be torn and it’s not something that a lot of doctors look for. Some of the main ways you can tear this ligament are car accidents. One of the most common ways is if you’re staring in the rearview mirror when somebody hits you from behind and you experience whiplash. Another common way is consistently sleeping on your stomach. This twists the ligament for hours at a time and eventually. The way a doctor can tell if you have alar ligament damage is through a couple of tests. They can do a physical test where you simply tilt your head back. Another test they can do is take an x-ray with your mouth open and look at the top bone (the atlas). If one side’s bigger than the other that’s a red flag that you might have a lot of ligament damage. The final way is an open mouth x-ray, with your head tilted to one side, to see if the atlas shifts off of the C2 bone.
2. Spinal Subluxation
The second thing we commonly see is a subluxation in that same area. So maybe there isn’t alar ligament damage, but the area is subluxated. This means the area is locked up and the joint isn’t moving properly. One sign that you have a subluxation in the top part of your neck is when you turn your chin to each shoulder. If you can’t get your chin to each shoulder evenly (so if it’s restricted one way or the other) there is a good possibility you have a subluxation. Also, if you tilt your head back and it feels like it’s locked up, the same thing is probably occurring. If you have a lot of tension on your occipital muscles, or they are just tight all the time, they’ll lock up when the cervical spine is subluxated and the stress response can affect the vertebral artery, oxygen and blood flow to the brain, and all the muscles/nerves that come around your entire head. This can affect your whole body from relaxation, digestion, sleep, but more specifically migraines. Atlas subluxation is extremely common and how we take care of that is through chiropractic adjustments (specifically based on x-rays) to make sure we get a full range of motion into the spine. We have exercises to retrain the muscles so that it doesn’t keep coming back, like a lot of times when you get chiropractic care.
3. Specific Deficiencies
The last common thing we see in our practice is deficiencies. Some very common deficiencies when you are dealing with migraine headaches are anemia (iron deficiency) or even a B12 deficiency. This affects the oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Another deficiency is a magnesium and potassium deficiency. Not having enough electrolytes in the body will cause your arterial walls to constrict because these muscles need electrolytes to decrease blood flow to the brain. We offer a variety of tests to check these levels, create a personalized plan, and provide the supplements your body needs to balance out.