Woman in yellow tshirt with closed eyes and hand to head. Migraine pain.

Is Stress The Cause Of Your Migraines?

Posted on Feb 27, 2021

Stress is one of the most significant causes of tension headaches and migraine. If you're looking at how you can help stop the symptoms of migraine before they start, we might have some answers for you. Research shows that a non-invasive procedure that stimulates a part of the body called the vagus nerve, has shown significant results. More of that later.

It's not surprising stress ranks so highly as a cause of migraines. Recent research indicates that up to 80% of migraine sufferers listed stress and anxiety as triggers for their attacks.

One of the main ways in which stress can lead to migraines is in the accumulation of muscular tension in the neck and shoulders. This leads to restricted blood supply to the head. Muscle tension itself is often driven by poor breathing patterns and reduced CO2, which is a cause of muscle spasm. 

How Can You Successfully Treat Migraines?

One treatment is acupuncture. It works by releasing muscular tension which restricts blood supply to tissues surrounding the head. Herbal medicine is another option and works by releasing constriction of blood vessels supplying the brain. 

 

Deal With Stress Before it Becomes a Headache

    In addition to Chinese medicine approaches to treating migraines, at Thrive we also provide instruction in mindfulness meditation and breathing training. These proven methods improve the ability to react to stressful situations. Becoming more relaxed in your approach, may help prevent many of the chronic health problems associated with stress.

    One common problem is neck pain. This often develops as the result of three issues. These are: lack of regular movement, degenerative changes and muscle tension caused by stress. Do you use mirrors to reverse the car or turn your neck and torso? Good neck movement is almost redundant in modern life – unless you play sports. The likelihood of shoulder dysfunction and arm pain increase dramatically when the neck stiffens with under use.

     

    Neck, Shoulder and Arm Pain

      The neck, shoulder and arm form a complex system, taking a massive amount of coordinated nervous system control. Many arm problems (e.g. repetitive strains, tennis elbow) are predisposed by shoulder stiffness. Often arm pain originates in the neck (trapped or irritated nerve effect).

      Shoulder pain affects neck function. And because all the nerves that operate the shoulder and arm originate in the neck, neck problems can then cause arm and hand pain. It’s clear that problems in any of these areas need an assessment of all three components, together with their nerve supply.

       

       The Vagus Nerve and Migraine Management

      Right at the beginning of this article I mentioned the vagus nerve. This nerve starts at the brainstem and works its way through the body, taking in most major organs along the way.

      It's become clear that when it comes to managing stress and the fight-flight-freeze reaction, this nerve has a key role to play.

      The vagus nerve can help 'switch off' the fight-flight-freeze response that kicks in we feel threatened. The stress of modern life means our bodies are very often in this response, even when no real threat is present. By toning the nerve, you can teach your body to step down and become more relaxed.

      Traditional methods, such as the mindful meditation talked about earlier, are the best ways to tone the vagus nerve. But thanks to devices such as the Sensate, we hop to make it possible to achieve tone in a much quicker time.

      Stopping a build up of stress is key if you're looking to reduce the chances of getting a migraine or tension headache.

      Try meditation, use acupuncture, Chinese medicine or the Sensate to reduce stress. I'm sure it will make a real difference.

       

      Stefan Chmelik

       

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