Help for Your Migraine is a Stretch Away

Migraines are nasty things. Migraines can be debilitating and can impact your activities and job. They are usually treated with non-prescription pain relievers or presciption medication. A new study shows that hatha-type yoga can be effectively incorporated as adjuvant therapty in migraine treatment.

Migraines are recognised as a major cause of disability. It is estimated that 14% of the world’s population have suffered from migraines at some point in their life. A global study ranked migraine as the eighth in the measure of burden of disease. The cost to individuals, their families and the community is high from a quality of life, absenteeism from school and work, lost productivity and medication expenses points of view.

Courtesy of makelessnoise

Recently, Statistics Canada estimated that 8.3% (2.7 million) Canadians report being diagnosed with a migraine. The actual sufferers of migraines may be greater as this was only for reported cases. Many people don’t report a migraine in order to receive prescription medication. The silent sufferers may use non-prescription pain relievers to deal with the migraine. The number of migraine sufferers may be as high as 22%.

Statistics Canada did find that women are twice as likely as men to report a migraine. Migraines seem to occur most often in people aged 30 to 49. There  is no cure for migraines. At best migraines are handled with medication.

The Mayo Clinic lists many triggers for migraines. Common migraine triggers include:

  • Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen.
    Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause.
    Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, also may worsen migraines. Some women, however, may find their migraines occur less often when taking these medications.
  • Foods. Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
  • Food additives. The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate, found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
  • Drinks. Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
  • Stress. Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
  • Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
  • Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may trigger migraines in some people, as can jet lag.
  • Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
  • Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
  • Medications. Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.

There may be some addition help that can reduce the incidence and severity of migraines.

A study was published in the International Journal of Yoga that shows promise. In this study, migraine patients were randomly given either conventional care alone, or conventional care plus five day a week one hour hatha-type yoga sessions. They were followed for six weeks.

The results were stunning. Each group had a frequency of about 11 mirgraines per month at the start of the study. With conventional care, the frequency decreased to 5 times per month. The group with added yoga decreased their incidence of migraines to less than 2 per month.

Equally striking was the intensity observations. At the start both groups reported migraines being about 9 of 10 on the level of pain. The conventional care groups saw a modest decrease to slightly less than 8. However, the yoga-added group reported their pain level to be at 2 of 10!

Taken together this may point to a significant benefit of practicing yoga as a safe additional supportive treatment to migraines.

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