I am a migraine sufferer. I have been for most of my life. I had my first migraine at the age of 10 during a family trip to Florida. I get them on a fairly regular basis and they really impact my life. I loose time out of work. I loose time with my family. The impact on my productivity goes well beyond the actual migraine event. My productivity is diminished the day before and for a few days afterward.
What makes a migraine different than a really bad headache?
A migraine is a throbbing pounding headache. The pain can shift from side to side or front to back. It can even encompass your whole head. The person experiencing a migraine is often very sensitive to light, sounds or smells. They often experience nausea and/or vomiting. Dizziness and blurred vision can also occur. I have noticed mild speech aphasia in myself the day before I get a migraine. I think the most classic migraine symptom though is the presence of an aura right before the onset of the migraine. 20-30% of migraine sufferers report the presence of an aura. The aura can be bright flashing lights or dots, blind spots, distorted vision or vision loss, or wavy or jagged lines.
According to the National Headache Foundation most migraine sufferers are women. In fact they estimate that as much as 25% of women suffer from migraine headaches. This isn’t entirely surprising when you research the potential triggers. Emotional Stress is believed to be one of the biggest triggers. The chemicals that are released during the Fight or Flight response act on the blood vessels (and particularly those in the brain) and cause vascular changes that can trigger a migraine. The second most cited trigger is sensitivity to food or an ingredient in food (alcohol, aged cheese, nitrates, MSG). Some other common triggers are hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, excessive fatigue and changes in your normal sleep pattern.
Is there anything I can do?!
While there is not “cure” for migraines, there are some things you can do to try to prevent them? First, have a complete physical by your doctor. Talk to him about your migraines and have a full blood panel tested. Make sure he tests for Thyroid Hormones. Because migraines are so linked with your vascular system you want to rule out any serious medical concerns.
Once you’ve done that it comes down to lifestyle management. Journal, journal journal. If you are getting migraines on a regular basis write down what your eating, how you’re feeling and other contributing factors. I’ve learned that I’m much more likely to get a migraine when my sleep pattern is significantly disrupted. My neck starts to hurt especially in this one place at the base of my skull on the right side. That is my signal to get in with my chiropractor and/or my massage therapist.
Many of my clients use massage as a way to prevent their migraines. It just makes sense when you consider that emotional stress is one of the biggest triggers. Are you someone who wears their shoulders as earrings? Massage, especially therapeutic massage, can address the trigger points, muscle spasm and tension that is creating the pain that can lead to a headache or a migraine. Also, when you are engaging in self-care regularly you are more likely to carry that into other areas of you life. It can help you to make better choices regarding exercise, diet, and sleep.
With migraines prevention really is the key. Engaging in regular self-care can go a long way to helping reduce or eliminate your migraines all together and massage is a wonderful part of the self-care. If you’d like more information on how massage can be an effective part of your migraine treatment plan, please visit http://www.berrihealth.net
I learned a valuable lesson recently on investing in myself. I have never been one to spend a lot on myself and that is especially true with clothes. I pride myself on the discounts I am able to find by shopping clearance racks and thrift stores. Recently I found myself with an event that I needed to dress up for and no pants that actually fit. You see I’ve gained some weight over the winter and am not really happy about my current appearance. Sigh! So I went to a thrift store looking for something to wear. In fact I went to several thrift and consignment stores and couldn’t find something that both fit and was event appropriate. When I unhappily relayed my troubles to my friend she recommended that I go to her favorite store where they sell pants “that will fit great and make you look like you lost 10 pounds instantly”. I know that store and their clothes aren’t cheap. In fact she tells me these pants cost $80 but they’re well worth the investment and that I’ll have them for years. I decide to listen to her (she is a third degree black belt after all). I go to the store and begin trying on pants. The poor sales girl. I must have tried on 11 pair of pants! I’m sure she never worked so hard for such a small commission.
An hour later I leave with a pair of pants, a blouse and a pair of earrings and a cost of $130. I have to admit though that I had a fabulous outfit. When I put that outfit on, I felt amazing! I felt better about myself than I have in years. I felt more confident and, dare I say, sexier! I actually looked at myself in the mirror and liked the image I saw. For the first time I understood the value of such an investment. I will be able to wear these for work and will probably wear them once a week for the next year (or more). Now I have bought designer pants at thrift and consignment stores before. In fact, I’ve bought pants from this same retailer second hand before. The difference is I tried on 11 pairs of pants in one location until I found the perfect ones. When I buy something second hand I’m more willing to settle for “good enough” and I usually spend a lot of time driving around checking out what the current selection is. My time is valuable. I needed something to wear the next day that was going to look fabulous.
I think about this in terms of my profession. There are so many offerings for massage lately each with their own widely varied price point. There is everything from national discount chains to independent practitioners like myself. Some people are attracted to the price point of the national chains. I can certainly understand that not being independently wealthy myself. I look at massage therapy as an investment in yourself, in your health. You can spend a little money and get a “good enough” massage. Maybe you’ll have to go a little more frequently because maybe the benefits aren’t as long lasting. Or you can spend a little more and go to someone with years of experience and training who can help you feel better faster. Overall you’ll invest less money and less of your most valuable asset- Time! The practitioner will be able work on your issue more effectively and will be better able to instruct you on a home care program so that you can help manage your pain. Can you find someone of that quality in one of the big box massage retailers? I’m sure you can but I’d argue they are the exception not the rule and you’ll spend a lot more time and money searching for that diamond in the rough.
Did you know that massage therapy can be a beneficial adjunct to your fertility treatment?
Two studies have shown increases success with conceiving when using specific fertility-enhancing bodywork techniques. 71% of participants became pregnant within 1 year. 3 participants even became pregnant a second time! The participants who were undergoing IVF treatments saw a 66% successful rate of embyo transfers which is significantly higher than the estimated odds ratio.
Neck pain. So many of us have it. We drive cars. We work on computers for hours at a time. We sleep on pillows that are long overdue to be replaced. Did you know that neck pain can come from a variety of places? Yes it can absolutely come from your neck, but did you know that imbalance in your shoulder can cause neck pain. Imbalance in your hips can create neck pain. Even imbalance in your knees can create neck pain. Our bodies are very complicated structures. As a massage therapist, I am trained to look at the body in it's entirety. I look at how each structure interacts with the one next to it and how that effects the overall body. If you have unresolved neck pain, come in for a free consultation.
Kym Berrien obtained her training and certification through the Pennsylvania School of Muscle Therapy, graduating in 2001. She also possesses specialized training in Pain Management and Women’s Health as well as being a DONA trained Birth and Postpartum Doula. She is dedicated to helping her clients achieve the health they deserve.