Migraines are uncommon, but they afflict millions of Americans with crippling pain. But it’s not just the pain that disturbs people about migraines. Instead, migraines are a complex condition that can be frightening for people.

businesswoman sitting at her desk with a migraine headache

Migraines Can Develop Any Time

With some conditions, you can be comfortable that once you reach a certain age, you’re unlikely to develop them. That’s not true with migraines: you never outgrow your migraine risk. Some people are diagnosed as children, others in their teens or early 20s. But migraines can develop at any age.

Sometimes, newly diagnosed migraines are just old migraines that were misdiagnosed. But migraines can also develop at older ages because of trauma or due to developmental changes. The fear of an upcoming migraine diagnosis is worst for people with genetic risk that they’ve known about since they were children. They keep waiting for the diagnosis they know is likely to come.

Migraines Can Be Disabling

Migraine attacks can last for just three hours or as much as 72 hours, and during that time, migraineurs may experience not just the extreme headache pain, but also disabling auras, dizziness, light sensitivity, and nausea. This can make it hard or impossible to work.

Some migraineurs may experience 14 migraine days a month or more! It’s hard to keep a job under those conditions.

Migraines Can Be Isolating

But migraines don’t just cut into your work schedule. They can interfere with your personal life, too. It can be hard to make plans as a migraineur, knowing that you may have to break your plans because of a headache.

And when you do have to break established plans, your friends and family can easily get offended. It’s hard to communicate with people the severity of your migraines and that the broken plans have nothing to do with them.

People Don’t Understand

The schedule disruption from migraines might be easier to deal with if people understood what you were really going through. Instead, bosses, family, and friends are all likely to come up with their own explanations for the changes in your plans. Bosses have a tendency to attribute frequent migraine attacks to “laziness” or other attempts to get out of work. Friends and family can be offended when you break plans, which can damage your friendships.

It’s hard to get them to understand the extent of your discomfort and disability.

Migraines Are Associated with Other Risks

As if migraines aren’t bad enough on their own, research indicates that migraines co-occur with many other serious health conditions. One of the most prominent is the risk for heart conditions in people with migraines. Migraineurs are at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and other serious heart conditions.

But they’re also associated with serious risk of other chronic pain conditions. Some of the more prominent ones linked to migraines are TMJ, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other pain conditions that can be disabling in their own right.

Many Things Can Trigger Migraines

If you are trying to reduce your migraine days so you can live a more enjoyable life, one piece of advice is to find and limit your migraine. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done.

Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out why something is causing a headache. Because so many things can trigger migraines, it might feel like you’re fighting an endless sea of new migraine triggers as they surface.

And many of your migraine triggers may be beyond your control. For example, many people get migraines when the weather changes–and you can’t control that!

Migraines Are Mysterious

But maybe the scariest thing about migraines is that we’re still not entirely sure why they happen. One of the key points in the triggering of the migraine is the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve emerges from the spine and runs past your jaws before branching out to control facial muscles and carry pain signals from the face to the brain. For reasons that remain unclear, the trigeminal nerve can release calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which can do many things, including dilating blood vessels in the brain, leading to increased pressure on the brain–the migraine.

We think CGRP is released after the trigeminal nerve becomes irritated, but it seems that the release of CGRP can also cause irritation of the trigeminal nerve.

It’s a difficult puzzle to figure out.

Most Migraine Treatments Don’t Work for Most People

Because we’re not entirely clear on the cause of migraines, we haven’t really developed outstanding migraine treatments. All migraine treatments seem to work for some people, but none of them work for everyone. And often, people get only limited, partial relief from their migraine treatment.

Many migraineurs try multiple migraine treatments before finding one they stick with, and even having tried out several, most migraineurs are not happy with their current migraine treatment.

Migraines Don’t Have to Be Scary

But there’s good news: if you keep trying, you may be able to find a migraine treatment that works for you. TMJ treatment is an approach to migraines that most people don’t know about and haven’t tried. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it may work for you.

And, as a bonus, it doesn’t have the scary side effects that many migraine drugs have. TMJ treatment is a totally reversible approach to migraine treatment that doesn’t involve surgery or drugs.

To learn whether TMJ treatment is the answer your terror of migraines in Wilmington, NC, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma.