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Written by Kylie Chiselett - Osteopath | 14th July 2021

Did you know that almost 5 million people in Australia suffer from migraines? June was Migraine Awareness month, and I thought a great opportunity help people understand migraines and how Osteopathy can be of help. It’s actually the reason I became an Osteopath all those years ago!!

So, What Actually Is A Migraine?

Migraines are more than a headache. Anyone who has had a migraine knows this. They are commonly one sided, severe throbbing pain in the head that can be accompanied with nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light, sounds and smells. Visual disturbances/flashing lights (called an aura) may come before the pain in some types of migraine. There are however a number of different types of migraine, some which do not even have a headache as a symptom.

What Causes A Migraine?

There have been a number of different thoughts on the cause of migraine over the years. The current theory adopted by Migraine Australia looks at people with migraine as having a hyper-reactive brain. This means you were likely born with slightly different genes that make your brain work faster, react faster and sometimes overreact when exposed to too much stimulation. This overstimulation is called a migraine attack.

When a migraine attack happens, 3 things are generally happening which lead to the pain and/or associated symptoms:
1. The pain nerve in the head and neck are irritated
2. Blood vessels in the head spasm
3. Inflammation happens in the affected part of the brain

How Can Osteopathy Help?

Our ultimate goal as Osteopaths is to provide you with long-term migraine relief and management. Osteopaths are unable to treat the actual migraine itself. Instead we are trained to work to identify and improve factors which may be triggering or contributing to your migraine. These triggers may be physical, such as dysfunction or tightness through the body, but these triggers can also be things such as stress, anxiety, hormonal influences, foods, or sleep patterns just to name a few. Your osteopath will do a thorough physical assessment and look for areas of the body which are not moving as well as they could be. We pay particular attention to the upper vertebrae and muscles of the neck, as these have been shown to contribute to both migraine and headaches. Your Osteopath may also do special tests to assess if medical factors are present, including taking your blood pressure and simple neurological screening. Osteopaths are trained to perform gentle and safe manual techniques to address any problem areas they find to improve movement and function and ultimately decrease any physical factors that could be triggering your migraine. Osteopathic treatment when combined with identification of external triggers can be very beneficial to migraine sufferers to decrease frequency, intensity or duration of attacks.

In next months blog, I will be talking about the things that you can do at home to help decrease migraine attacks.

Kylie Chiselett is an Osteopath that works at Canterbury Health Hub. She is available on Mondays and Thursdays. Click here to learn more about Kylie. Book online or call (03) 9836 3688 for an appointment with Kylie.