Migraine

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The doctors here at OBC have worked predominantly with migraine sufferers for years. There are so many people out there who are looking for answers. Here are some facts to help you identify if you have migraines and if we may be able to help you.

Migraine is a prevalent neurological disease, affecting 39 million people in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide. Migraine is the 3rd most common disease in the world (behind dental caries and tension-type headaches). (1) Migraine affects twice as many women as men (most likely due to hormonal contributions). (2)

Migraineurs typically experience severe throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head (it can also be both sides). The name ‘migraine’ comes from the Greek word hemicrania, meaning ‘half of the head’. Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to light, sound, touch and/or smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. About one quarter of migraine sufferers have an aura, but it may not occur every episode.

Migraine is a genetic condition that is the result of neurological abnormalities in the brain and brainstem. There have been several theories that explain the pathophysiology of migraine, or why migraines occur, but the neurogenic theory is the most widely accepted today. (3)

You may have identified internal and external factors that can trigger an episode. For example, stress, caffeine, chocolate, wine, aged cheese, or changes in barometric pressure. These things are triggers and are not actually the root cause of the condition. Until the neurological abnormalities are corrected, symptoms may persist. Our doctors are here to not only help you to identify your triggers, but also to coach you through the process of removing them in order to give you the best chance of reducing your migraine frequency, intensity, and duration.

You may have been told you have chronic daily migraines which means you have more than 15 episodes per month. Keep in mind, medication overuse headaches happen when taking pain medications frequently and can be a factor in how many headache days you’re having each month and how intense they are. How could medication that is designed to reduce your headaches actually make them worse? Current research is suggesting medications cause a decrease in your ability to process pain, as well as reinforcing pain pathways that already exist.

Most people don’t realize how debilitating migraines can be. They are one of many “invisible illnesses”, meaning you can’t tell if someone has it just by looking at them. Telling someone “you don’t look sick” is among the list of things not to say to a migraineur (or anyone suffering in silence). In the Global Burden of Disease Study by the World Health Organization, migraine was found to be the 6th most disabling illness in the world. Headache disorders collectively were third highest (4).

Don’t forget, migraine affects kids, too, and often goes undiagnosed. “Children who suffer from recurrent headaches are more likely to have other medical conditions and more frequent school absences compared to children without headaches.” (5)

If you are suffering from migraines, a comprehensive functional neurological examination is required to uncover the distinct areas in the brain & brainstem that are contributing to your suffering. The modalities and treatments used at our practice are always inherently drug-free. We utilize a unique combination of lifestyle modifications and neurological interventions to create an individualized & effective care plan to help to improve your quality of life!

References

  1. Steiner, Timothy J, et al. “Migraine: the Seventh Disabler.” The Journal of Headache and Pain, vol. 14, no. 1, 2013, doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-1.
  2. “Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 11 May 2012,
  3. Gasparini, Claudia, et al. “Studies on the Pathophysiology and Genetic Basis of Migraine.” Current Genomics, vol. 14, no. 5, 2013, pp. 300–315., doi:10.2174/13892029113149990007.
  4. “Headache Disorders.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 8 Apr. 2016,
  5. Lateef, Tarannum M., et al. “Headache in a National Sample of American Children: Prevalence and Comorbidity – Tarannum M. Lateef, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Jianping He, Amanda Kalaydjian, Suzan Khoromi, Erin Knight, Karin B. Nelson, 2009.” NCBI, Journal of Childhood Neurology , 15 Dec. 2009,
Dr. Stephanie Barbakoff DC, DACNB

Dr. Stephanie Barbakoff DC, DACNB

Originally from New York, specializes in women’s health as it relates to post-concussion syndrome, hormones, fatigue, dizziness, and chronic migraines.

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