A pain in the brain

By: Alison Dunn Sep 21, 2010
A pain in the brain

If you've ever had a migraine before, you know it's a pain like no other.

I still remember getting a migraine for the first time. The pain was so bad, it lasted for three days. I ended up in the doctor's office because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Since then, I have been lucky not to have them regularly, but about once a year, I get struck down with the unbearable pain.

The problem with treating migraines is that they can be different for everyone. Mine tend to begin with vision difficulties. I get blind spots and see auras, then the pain starts to set in. Occasionally, I've had one that I've dubbed a "functional" migraine, which means the pain is just bearable enough that I can function, albeit not well.

Others have pain so intense it drives them to their beds. Still more have migraines accompanied by nausea, while others are sensitive to sound. We all have different things that trigger the migraines – food, weather, air pressure, allergies and more. The only thing we all have in common is that the migraines are a nightmare – and only time really seems to cure them.

But recently, as I've been interviewing and speaking to more and more health experts, I've discovered there are quite a few things you can do about migraines. If you're suffering from them frequently, or even infrequently, there are things you can do to help.

I recently spoke to a naturopathic doctor about something called craniosacral therapy, or CST. If you've never heard of it, it consists of a gentle, hands-on technique of evaluating and treating the craniosacral and fascial systems of the body. (The craniosacral system includes the membranes and fluid that surround the brain and spinal cord, while the fascial system includes the layers of fibrous connective tissue between the skin and the underlying muscle and bone.)

The idea is that a CST therapist will lightly touch you to find restrictions in the cranial and spinal bone movements, then reestablish normal, healthy movement, thus freeing you from the restrictions that may cause pain.

Others believe that diet and allergies are responsible for many people’s migraines, and that through a healthy diet and cutting out foods that contain sulphites or MSG, as found in many processed, packaged foods, can help. Relaxation and stress release are also key to making these therapies work.

Really, though, I think the key is to find health professionals you trust, like your doctor, a naturopathic doctor, a massage therapist, or someone else, to help guide you through the process. There's no need to suffer with migraines any more.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.