Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Root Cause For Migraines And A Simple Solution

Migraines are one of the most commonly debilitating conditions in the world, affecting 20% of the population.  Those who have suffered at least one, with any combination of the hallmark Migraine symptoms ranging from pain to sensitivity to light and/or sound to nausea to vomiting to visual disturbances to numbness or tingling to clumsiness to having difficulty communicating, etc., can vouch for how it takes over your world from when it hits to when it goes away. 

In a single word, Migraines are awful.  They are also one of the most aggravating conditions to treat through traditional medical options, as drugs used to combat symptoms are potentially dangerous and can cause a whole host of side effects, including increasing the likelihood of more consistent Migraine episodes. 

As with most complicated matters, part of the frustration over the prevalence of Migraines is a lack of understanding as to what causes them.  While many triggers have been discovered – caffeine, cigarette smoke, excessive light or sound, fatigue, certain foods, head trauma, hormonal changes, hunger, poor sleeping posture, stress, and weather changes among them – the causes largely remain a mystery; and, without knowing the causes, treatment programs are predominantly designed either around stopping Migraine symptoms after they have already been triggered or prophylactically taking medications.   

Years ago, Dr. Seymour Diamond, Executive Director of the National Headache Foundation, identified what he believed to be perhaps the root cause of Migraine Headaches: a malfunction in the nervous system’s hub, the brainstem.  Using advanced imaging, he mapped neurologic activity throughout the brain and the brainstem before, during, and after Migraine attacks.  Before a trigger was introduced, the brainstem was overactive.  Once the trigger was introduced, there were spikes across the board, consistent in the brainstem as before and also in various parts of the brain.  Imitrex was then introduced via injection and, although the turmoil reduced throughout the brain as Migraine symptoms decreased, the brainstem remained overactive. 

After subsequent follow-up studies, Dr. Diamond concluded that the drugs used to suppress Migraine symptoms were not affecting the brainstem and that the brainstem remaining overactive was the reason that symptoms were so prone to return even after drug therapy. 

The research begged the question: if the brainstem malfunctioning causes Migraines, what causes the brainstem to malfunction and, then, what if anything can be done to correct it?

Given that the brainstem is located where the head converges with the neck, a misalignment in the Upper Cervical spine quite commonly affects the brainstem’s function.  The brainstem is the control center of the body responsible for the regulation of pain perception, breathing, heart-rate, balance, blood pressure, digestion, and the expanding and contracting of blood vessels; when it malfunctions, it provokes a state of crisis throughout the body and prompts the blood vessels surrounding the brain to swell, laying the foundation for one of the aforementioned triggers to set off a Migraine. 
Upper Cervical spinal misalignments have been shown through a variety of clinical trials to be underlying causes of several vascular conditions, Migraines, Hypertension, and Multiple Sclerosis among them.  The primary reason why these misalignments occur is physical traumas, particularly those associated with the head and/or neck.  Traumas occur throughout our lives, from the birthing process to the thousands of falls we incur during youth to sports injuries to bike wrecks to major falls to car accidents.  When the upper neck vertebrae consequently misalign, the brainstem’s ability to normally regulate internal functions is impaired and the vertebral arteries which run through tiny openings on either side of the vertebrae can be compressed, decreasing the blood and oxygen supply to the brain and preventing the veins that drain fluid in the brain from working the way that they are supposed to.

Fortunately, these misalignments can be precisely identified and safely corrected by an Upper Cervical Practitioner, who uses specific diagnostic imaging to discover the complexities of the problem and who expertly sets the vertebrae back into their proper positions, removing the irritation to the brainstem and restoring proper blood flow to and from the brain in order to decrease and often eliminate the principal cause of Migraines. 

Kimberly Bostic, a Triad resident, stated the following about her experience with Upper Cervical Care: “Since I began my treatment in January 2011, I have suffered approximately 4 or 5 Migraines.  I had a Migraine at least monthly, if not more frequently, for almost 30 years.  In my mid-20s, I became aware that I could predict most precipitation-related weather events rather accurately because of my Migraines.  The first time that it rained after the correction that put things right, I was thoroughly shocked to watch the news and see the radar indicated it was raining outside.”

Thirty four years ago and pregnant with my first child, I experienced what I now know to be a Migraine,” Jan T. recalled about her history with the life-altering condition.  “I [saw] medical doctors, neurologists, and chiropractors.  I have had x-rays, MRIs and a list of neurological tests – all of which showed nothing of concern.  I tried numerous medications and injections (as needed and preventative), but continued to experience Migraines.  [Learning] about how misaligned upper cervical vertebrae can affect the entire body system made complete sense to me.”  She said of her work with an Upper Cervical Practitioner that “the headaches have [become] much less frequent and intense” and that she “highly recommends” Upper Cervical Care. 

When Gwen Brown first visited an Upper Cervical Practitioner, she had become increasingly miserable and frustratingly unsure as to the reason why. “My diagnosis was very unclear but ER doctors and a Neurologist were calling it anywhere from a weird Migraine to the possibility of MS,” she said.  “After one [Upper Cervical correction], my focus began to improve and my chronic Migraines went away along with the stress of anticipating surgery or life-long drugs to manage my condition. This completely changed my life.”

Finding the cause is the key.  If you or someone you know has been plagued by Migraines, encourage them to see an Upper Cervical Practitioner who will not only pinpoint the cause but correct it as well.  Upper Cervical Care is restoring the health and function of thousands of people who were sick and tired of being sick and tired, suffering from conditions like Migraines.

Sources: The National Institute of Health; The National Headache Foundation

Dr. Chad McIntyre owns and operates the Triad Upper Cervical Clinic in Kernersville.  Specializing in Upper Cervical Care, his office emphasizes a proactive, goal-oriented approach to health rooted in strong patient education.  If you would like to learn more about Upper Cervical Care, visit or call 336-992-2536 to schedule a consultation.

Friday, February 10, 2017

An Example of Long-Term Healing Under Upper Cervical Care

An Example Of Long-Term Healing 

(Dr. Chad Note – One of the most common questions we get is “how long will it take me to feel better and/or heal?”  Everyone is different, so it is not an easy question to answer.  For some, the feeling better part happens faster than the actual healing does; for others it can be the opposite.  Time is an important factor to account for in your healthy endeavors and the following is a fantastic example of that.  Had this particular patient ceased care in the stabilization phase or before returning to an optimal state, she would never have seen the benefit)

“In 2006 I injured my left arm carrying my work laptop into the office.  I grabbed it to put it on my shoulder and I heard a loud pop in my upper left shoulder.  It stung for a while and I just dismissed it thinking it was like a popping ankle or knuckle, the pain would go away and I would be fine.  The pain didn't go away, it was a constant ache and I again dismissed as me getting older and the body taking longer to heal.  Then in 2008 I re-injured the same left shoulder trying to beat my husband in a game of Wii Tennis.  This pop brought me to my knees and tears in my eyes.  I dismissed it again thinking the body will heal itself, I'll just give it time. 

Next thing I noticed that in June of 2011 I couldn't lift my arm over my head or lift it to check the time on my watch.  So I had a physical in September 2011 and I was referred to a Physical Therapist.  She told me I had a Frozen Shoulder, never heard of that before and that same month I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Could the two be related?  I had no idea.  So I started the Physical Therapy, went for about 6 weeks, weekly.  I got my range of motion back, could look at my watch again but couldn't make certain moves and still had the pain in the top left shoulder, although not as bad.  I started my treatment for Breast Cancer and still had the nagging pain in my shoulder some nights it was unbearable and I would have tears in my eyes.  I finished my treatment for Breast Cancer in October 2012 but my left shoulder continued to hurt. 

So I was referred to Dr. Chad at Triad Upper Cervical Clinic.  I completed his new patient questionnaire and he asked me before I could mention if I had a Frozen Shoulder.  I told him I did, went to physical therapy but it still hurts.  Well I started the program with Dr. Chad in Jan/Feb 2013.  The pain got worse, unbearable and I just wanted to cut it off some days.  However, when I would mention it to Dr. Chad he would say, “give it time, how long ago did you injure it?, etc.” I knew what he was saying, it's not going to be poof and go away but he did say one day I will wake and the pain would be no more.  I was patient but didn't stop asking around for solutions.  I would always go back to Dr. Chad and say can I try this and that.  He would stay true to course (believing in his profession)  “it's going to work!”

I listened and when I began to hold a correction for over a month and then month and half and Dr. Chad was like “oh you don't have to come as often,” I'm thinking in the back of my head…but my shoulder it still hurts).  It didn't hurt everyday only at times and I began to associate that with healing. 
Well on June 21, 2013, my left shoulder hurt terribly bad, I was about to just lose my mind but when I looked under my arm I saw dark black - just deathly looking - under my arm.  I got scared but went “something is coming out.”  So then I started to itch under my arm, I scratched and black, flaky matter was under my finger nails.  I kept telling myself this was a good thing.  Then white bumps appeared and my skin was very dry and chaffed under there.  I was getting scared but decided to wait it out.  It was painful and one day around June 24, 2013, I woke up and started using my left arm like it never hurt.  I was combing my hair and my left arm was doing the work and I didn't feel ANY pain.  It was at that time I rejoiced and couldn't wait to share with Dr. Chad.  I've not been in pain since.  I never did shots, I took a pill once from the medical doctor (Mobic) but it was only temporary and I decided not to keep taking it.  I am glad I stopped and went this way.”