why-trauma-triggered-migraines-should-concern-athletesI speak as an upper cervical chiropractor in Oklahoma City, and I can certainly say that most people have no idea what’s triggering their migraines. Only a few people know that a mild head injury can actually cause neurological attacks known as trauma-triggered migraines. 

Trauma-triggered migraines are a common source of headaches, particularly in athletes with a family history of migraines. We often assume that headaches and migraines are due to a concussion. But this assumption was not supported by the results of a case study that showed they are more likely a result of trauma-trigged migraines (TTMs).


A Noteworthy Study on Migraines

The study examined a young high school student. He was a football player and had suffered from consistent recurring headaches. The headaches developed after he had head trauma while playing football. His most recent migraine attack began after he made head-to-head contact with a fellow player to make a tackle. The headache turned more severe but eventually subsided. 

There were no other signs of a concussion in him. His headache was non-throbbing but constant and came with sensitivity to bright lights. Doctors found that head pain ran in his family. Both his younger sister and father had them. 

He was first diagnosed with a concussion since his migraines seemed to be related with hitting his head. However, doctors reconsidered the initial diagnosis, and he later got a trauma-triggered migraines diagnosis. What are they exactly? 


Facts About Trauma-Triggered Migraines

TTMs are complicated to diagnose. They are often wrongly identified as concussions or a hematoma since their symptoms can overlap. They mostly affect children and adolescents with a family history of head pain.

Here are other facts about trauma-triggered migraines:

  • A concussion can co-exist with TTMs
  • TTMs put a person at higher risk for a brain injury from trauma
  • MRI and CT scans are normal in people with TTMs
  • TTMs are often a classic migraine with aura (headache occurs after a warning sign about an hour before. Some of the symptoms are visual disturbances, numbness, tingling, food cravings, and speech issues)
  • TTMs bring neurological symptoms that can persist for a few hours or many days
  • Paralysis on one side of the body and blindness may also occur 


Symptoms of Trauma-Triggered Migraines

TTMs have no distinct symptoms; that’s why it is challenging to tell them apart from a concussion. Both conditions have a headache. Also, there is no diagnostic test that can differentiate the two.

Here’s how doctors know which condition is to be diagnosed. Doctors may consider it a trauma-triggered migraine if an athlete has a family history of migraines, and the head pain developed following trauma. The diagnosis of concussion versus TTMs is generally based on patient medical history.


Treatment for Trauma-Triggered Migraines

After a diagnosis, the doctor may suggest care and treatment options for trauma-triggered migraines. Keep in mind that these medications may come with side effects. 

  • Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and triptans
  • Beta-blockers (propanol and metoprolol), not advisable for patients with asthma
  • Antiepileptics (valproic acid and topiramate)
    • Side effects of valproic acid:
      • Nausea
      • Drowsiness
      • Tremors
      • Weight gain
    • Side effects of topiramate:
      • Cognitive problems
      • Renal stones
      • Weight loss
      • Paresthesia (pins and needles feeling)
      • Hypohyrosis (excessive sweating causing hyperthermia and fatigue which may result in heat injuries in very active athletes)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline)
    • Side effects:
      • Dry mouth
      • Weight gain
      • Sedation
      • Cardiac arrhythmia (it is a rare side effect of tricyclic antidepressants, but doctors will recommend a patient to have an EKG before prescribing this medication as it can negatively affect those with a rare congenital heart disease called Long QT Syndrome)


Getting Natural Relief for Trauma-Triggered Migraines

Many athletes are cautious about taking medications for their trauma-triggered migraines. However, they do not want to suffer from migraines any longer. If this is your situation, I want to share with you a natural method that can care for and relieve any type of migraines – upper cervical chiropractic! 

Upper cervical chiropractors like me have high success rates in providing effective relief for patients suffering from different kinds of headaches and migraines. How do we do it?

The solution lies in the neck. The C1 and C2 vertebrae of the upper neck provides protection to the brainstem. The brainstem is the main communication road of the body. It facilitates the sending of signals to and from the brain and body. If these bones of the upper neck are not in proper alignment, the brainstem will be under severe pressure, possibly causing dysfunction. Also, a misalignment in this area can block the smooth flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid from departing and entering the brain. When these happen, headaches and migraines are very likely to develop. 


Precision Chiropractic in Oklahoma City Can Help

Here at Precision Chiropractic in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I locate and measure the exact misalignments in the C1 or C2 vertebrae for my patients. Patients are safe as upper cervical chiropractic is a gentle technique that brings misaligned bones into correct alignment. No procedure will be done that will involve popping or cracking of the spine. Instead, I encourage the bones to realign naturally without putting added pressure on the neck. Nearly all my patients see considerable improvements in their migraines in only a few adjustments. You can read some of my patients’ testimonials here.


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheppard, call our Oklahoma City office at 405-873-8134. You can also click the button below. If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.