The migraine headache is perhaps the best known special type of headache. It is really called the migraine syndrome. By syndrome we mean that a lot of things accompany the headache - all of them bad. Examples of these include dizziness, visual problems, “spots” before the eyes, redness, swelling, tearing of the eyes, muscle contraction, irritability, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms often arise before the headache hits. The headache itself may last for few minutes to a few days, and the severity may be that of minor discomfort all the way up to immobilizing agony.
The migraine pain is most common in the temple, but may be experienced anywhere in the head, face and neck.
A variety of headaches closely related to the migraine is the cluster headache. Attacks come on abruptly with intense throbbing pain arising high in the nostril and spreading to behind the eye on the same side. Sometimes the forehead is also affected. The attacks tend to occur from once to several times daily, in clusters lasting weeks or even months. Without apparent reason the cluster subsides as quickly at it began.
So what puts the ache in headache? It’s the pain sensitive structures of the head that are the culprits. These are the arteries of the brain and skull, tissues surrounding the head veins, the dura mata covering over the brain, and certain nerves called cranial nerves. When these parts are inflamed, stretched, pulled or under pressure, any type of headache may be caused.
As a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, I take a different approach to the treatment and prevention of headaches. After a thorough neurological examination I determine which part of the nervous system is not functioning properly. In many headache patients I may find a high mesencephalic output.
There are three parts to the brain stem: top, middle and lower. The mesencephalon is the top part of the brain stem. A high output of the mesencephalon will cause an increased pulse and heart rate, the inability to sleep, or a waking, fitful sleep. Other symptoms might include urinary tract infections, increased warmth and sweating, and sensitivity to light.
Along with a high mesencephalic output, the headache patient may present with a decreased output of the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls coordinated movement and all of the muscles of the spinal column.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Michael L. Johnson is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist with over twenty years of experience in private practice, over 850 hours of neurological studies, and 3800 hours of postgraduate education. His best-selling book What Do You Do When the Medications Don't Work? - A Non-Drug Treatment of Dizziness, Migraine Headaches, Fibromyalgia, and Other Chronic Conditions is available at http://www.askdrjohnson.com. © 2005 M. L. Johnson