A migraine is a throbbing, intense headache in one half of the head. It can affect people of all ages. The cause of migraine is not known.
During an attack, the blood vessels in the brain dilate and then draw together with stimulation of nerve endings near the affected blood vessels. These changes to the blood vessels are probably what cause the pain.
Evidence accumulated to date suggests that a number of Hypnotherapeutic approaches are highly effective in the treatment of patients with chronic migraine headaches. Although no one Hypnotherapeutic technique has been demonstrated to be most effective, all the methods appear to be superior to a standard treatment relying on pharmacological approaches alone.
See also headaches
Are migraines hereditary?
There is often a predisposition for migraine within the family of migraine sufferers, but it is not certain how large a role heredity plays.
What might trigger migraine?
Most people suffering from migraine are aware that different foods, such as cheese, chocolate or wine, can cause the attacks. Other things that may trigger an attack include exercise, anxiety, the contraceptive pill and travel. These particular causal factors vary from patient to patient. Some women experience attacks more frequently around the time of their menstrual periods.
Migraine sufferers should avoid factors such as alcohol, lack of sleep and foods that are known to cause attacks.
The following conditions should be met:
- the attack lasted from 4 to 72 hours
- the attack should feature at least two of the following characteristics: pain only in one half of patient's head; a throbbing sensation; moderate to severe pain, or pain that worsens with movement.
During the attack at least one of the following conditions must be met: nausea and/or vomiting; sensitivity to light and sound.
Up to 15 per cent of patients also experience visual problems before an attack. They may also suffer from problems with their speech and numbness of hands, arms or legs during an attack.
Research: Anderson, J. A., Basker, M. A. and Dalton, R. (1975). Migraine and hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 23(1). 48-58.
Compared the treatment of migraine by hypnosis and autohypnosis with the treatment of migraine by the drug prochlorperazine. Results show that the number of attacks and the number who suffered blinding attacks were significantly lower for the group receiving hypnotherapy than for the group receiving prochlorperazine. For the group on hypnotherapy, these two measures were significantly lower when on hypnotherapy than when on previous treatment. It is concluded that further trials of hypnotherapy are justified against some other treatment not solely associated with the ingestion of tablets.
In a study conducted by Anderson (1975), migraine patients treated with Hypnosis had a significant reduction in the number of attacks and in their severity compared to a control group who were treated with traditional medications. The difference did not become statistically significant until the second six-month follow-up period. In addition, at the end of one year, the number of patients in the Hypnosis group who had experienced no headaches for over three months was significantly higher.
Elmer Green, Ph.D., director of Menninger Foundation's Psychophysiology Laboratory
... It was fortuitous that biofeedback was discovered to be a useful tool in the treatment of headache. A research team under Elmer Green, Ph.D., director of Menninger Foundation's Psychophysiology Laboratory, was testing biofeedback as a possible method of treatment for certain mental and physical conditions. A group of 33 women were taught to direct blood flow to their hands on a voluntary basis. One of the subjects happened to be a migraine patient. During the course of one of the sessions she found that her headache stopped completely. Dr. Green observed that this occurred at the same time that her hands were becoming warmer (i.e. more blood flowed to her hands).
The experiment was then reproduced, using another migraine patient, with the same results. Finding no explanation for this phenomenon in the literature, Dr. Green speculated that the process of increasing blood flow into the hands diverted the blood from the head. He observed, in fact, that cold hands were common to migraines. Since blood pulsates through swollen, painfully distended blood vessels during migraine headaches, he reasoned that diverting the blood flow in this way actually decreased the swelling, and thus the pain.... (Source diamondheadache.com / bioresearch.html)