How do you know if what you’re experiencing is migraine pain?
Dr. Timothy Dembowski, the founder of Atlanta Medical Clinic, begins by drawing a parallel with back pain: Someone might feel a low-back twinge after a Saturday filled with yard work – or suffer a couple of days of agony for no apparent reason.
A migraine is the latter.
Although hard to definitively describe, a migraine is typically more consistent, repetitive and relentless than a typical headache,” says Dr. Dembowski. “This moderate to severe throbbing pain that interferes with routine activity is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and smell.”
It all comes down to stress
While the origins of some migraines are uncertain, most can be traced back to stress:
- Emotional stress: The stress that keeps you up at night, caused by everything from your job to your relationships, can also trigger migraine pain.
- Chemical stress: The prescribed medications you take put stress on your body, as does too much (or a weaning off of) caffeine or the alcoholic beverages that help unwind.
- Environmental stress: Does a migraine often follow after you find yourself in an environment that is too noisy or too bright or too filled with scents, such as a perfume counter? An allergy test can also be illuminating. ”Let’s see what your blood is saying. Even what’s considered healthy for someone else – such as a particular protein – might not be healthy for you,” says Dr. Dembowski. “Food allergies, for example, can cause an inflammatory response that trigger joint pain, digestive issues or a headache.”
- Physical stress: Have you been overdoing it? Are you exercising too much or working a strenuous job too many hours, stealing from precious hours to sleep?
Regardless of the migraine-pain trigger, Dr. Dembowski says his goal for the past 18 years has been to get people healthy without drugs or surgery. Still, the tendency might be for someone experiencing a migraine to pop some over-the-counter medications – if not something stronger ultimately prescribed by a primary care physician. Along with potential side effects, pain meds can only do so much – and come with the threat of causing a rebound migraine.
So what’s a migraine sufferer to do?
“Something’s got to give here,” Dr. Dembowski says. “So we look at causes. We want to see what’s fueling the migraine.”’
He’d love to see patients sooner, because his philosophy is one that looks toward treatment that doesn’t simply mask the pain, but potentially can eliminate it.
Along with working with patients to discover their personal emotional and physical triggers, Atlanta Medical Clinic also uses these modalities, which often work hand-in-hand:
- Chiropractic care, which includes spinal adjustments to help relieve nerve pressure.
- Physical therapy, which can correct musculoskeletal issues that can cause headaches.
- Spinal decompression, which is a gentle method of relieving spinal nerve pressure.
- SPG nerve block, which is a needleless procedure that delivers pain-relieving medication to a collection of nerves deep in the nasal cavity.
SPG nerve block 101: Mist and a minute
Dr. Dembowski says that for most patients, the groundbreaking SPG nerve block is a breath of fresh air that brings some level of improvement to every patient.
A plastic, toy-like catheter is inserted up the nostril, which stops right before reaching the SPG or sphenopalatine ganglion nerves, which are responsible for migraine pain. A nonsteroidal anesthetic such as Marcaine is misted in each nostril. The patient then lies down for 10 minutes so the medication can remain on the nerves.
After five to 10 treatments, the pain pattern frequently disappears.
“It’s like when there’s construction on the Interstate and drivers are forced to find a different path,” he says. “The body is wise. When a pain signal keeps hitting a dead end, it stops.”
Isn’t it time to show your migraine pain a stop sign? Call Atlanta Medical Clinic today for your free consultation.