If you have migraines, you know how badly they hurt and that you’d try anything to relieve the pain.  While the pain from migraines can vary from person to person, most people experience intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head or both sides, nausea or vomiting, and being bothered by, light, noise, odors or physical activity. You know migraines hurt, but why exactly do these headaches cause so much pain? Let’s take a look.

What Causes Migraines?

If you’ve been experiencing migraines for a long time, you might find that you have triggers that tend to bring them on. Other times, you might not be able to pin down why they’re happening. There’s no one cause of migraines, but doctors and researchers have found that changes in serotonin can play a role in developing them. Serotonin is an important chemical in the body and it has several functions, one of which is an effect on blood vessels. High serotonin levels cause blood vessels to shrink, while low levels cause them to swell. It’s this swelling that doctors think could cause pain and other issues. 

Another theory is that changes in your brain’s electrical activity contribute to migraines. The Mayo Clinic notes that “changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, might be involved.” Changes in hormones like estrogen could also play a role in causing headaches. Genetics can make you susceptible, too. 

What Happens When You Have a Migraine

Migraines usually begin with a trigger. This could be a change in weather, a smell, higher than normal stress, or the normal hormonal fluctuations that happen during a person’s menstrual cycle. 

Once you experience a trigger, the neurons in your brain fire abnormally.  These abnormally firing neurons can give you symptoms that affect your senses like nausea, vomiting, vision changes, and hypersensitivity to pain elsewhere on your body like your skin or scalp.  They can also cause chemicals like serotonin to increase or decrease, which can lead to the pain you’re familiar with.

Why are Migraines Painful?

The National Headache Association refers to migraine as a neurovascular headache. That means migraines are a”dysfunction of brain-stem pathways that normally modulate sensory input,” according to the National Headache Association.

Because the areas of the brain are firing abnormally in response to a trigger, serotonin levels are affected and can decrease. A drop in serotonin can lead to blood vessel swelling, resulting in pain.  That’s why medications and substances like caffeine that restrict blood vessels have been shown to help reduce pain from migraines. 

Pain relief can include tracking and avoiding triggers, and over-the-counter or prescription medications. However, if you’ve tried several pain relief options and they haven’t been effective, there’s another option that could reduce your pain. 

The Migraine Procedure to Reduce Pain

The Migraine Procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that helps interrupt the pain signals in your brain. An implanted device delivers a mild electric current to the nerves that override a migraine’s pain signaling. If you’re tried several treatment options and are still suffering from migraine pain, contact us today to learn more about the Migraine Procedure. 

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