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Migraine: A Journey to Rise Above 7 of 10

Updated on March 15, 2012

This article continues my journey to overcome daily chronic migraines and the other conditions that go hand-in-hand.


Migraines & Alternative Therapies

As migraine treatments, I experienced great relief from alternative therapies such as acupuncture, physical therapy (PT), osteo-manipulative therapy (OMT) (aka cranial-sacral therapy), and massage therapy. I have had structural impediments that are the single largest factor to my migraines. Until I started alternative therapies, I did not know this!

My definition of “structural impediment” is those conditions that created imbalances to the physical structure of my body. I have had many physical injuries, but not any that I thought were genuinely traumatic until I embarked on the journey to alleviate my migraines. I have suffered sports injuries from martial arts, have been thrown from horses at least half dozen times, had a water skiing incident pulling three ribs away from my spine, and have fallen several times resulting in other injuries. To top all that, I discovered two tumors in my left foot that had likely been there for as many as 15 years!

With exception to the tumors that were removed, the only structural damage that has shown up on any test is disc compression at C5-C6-C7 (cervical vertebra). This was misleading information for me. Mild disc compression has not produced the severity of problems as compared to the damage done to my muscles, ligaments, and tendons on the entire right side of my body when I was slammed onto a gravel road from a bucking horse. At the time, the x-rays showed no physical damage and the hospital recommended no follow up treatment other than rest!

Fast forward a few years, I discover the foot tumors. What I did not know then, was that my body had slowly changed gait and posture over a long period of time as those foot tumors grew. It was further compensating for the accumulated damage from all the other injuries (the last horse fall being the worst). My right hip was especially problematic and used to frequently slip out of alignment. I was almost sure to get a migraine when this happened, because my posture would tilt at my back, neck, and head.

It took me several years of PT, OMT, acupuncture, and massage therapy to heal. I am not finished with this process, but I am well on my way.

Physical therapy is good for damage to a specific area of the body. They may use manual therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and other therapies. I did the follow-up exercises and worked with the PT’s until past the point of feeling healed to gain the full effects.

Osteo-manipulative treatments are necessary to address full body structural balance. Osteopathic physicians treat misalignments of the skeletal structure, muscle-tendon-fascia balance, and cranial-spinal alignments. Many people find relief from chiropractic treatments, but I found the OMT sessions to be less abrasive to my body and last longer. Plus more insurance companies cover OMT, but not chiropractic.

Acupuncturists treat blockages. Both traditional needle therapy and acupressure, combined with massage can clear our body of blockages to promote healing and balance. There are energy channels that run throughout our body. Muscles spasms and other conditions can block the flow of energy and blood flow, thereby preventing healing. This can be cost-prohibitive if not covered by insurance.

Massage therapy, if done well, is every bit “therapy” as much as anything else. I felt it was absolutely essential to my treatment plan. Again, I followed the recommendations for focused exercises and stretching between sessions. The biggest setback is cost – insurance companies do not recognize this as a medical treatment, which is ridiculous in my opinion.

Miracle Balls have also been a miracle to me. In between therapy appointments I stretch, do yoga, and use these to maintain or further the work being done by professionals. They are small plastic balls (tennis balls can be used in a similar way) that can target acupressure points and muscle spasms. I acquired many skills as a long-term recipient of physical therapies. I learned to use these balls to perform my own therapy.

Depending on the physical symptoms I am experiencing, I generally work with one therapy for a while. As that method peaks I moved to another and then back again, determined by how my body reacts and how I feel. I am very close to fully functioning structurally. I plan to begin work on my black belt again! It’s good to have goals!

All of the medications, therapies, and diet changes had taken quite a toll on my outlook. I also had to take a hard look at myself inside my mind and spirit. My next article covers this.

Thanks Dr. Piercy!

My neurologist gave me positive feedback on my articles. Her comments:

"it is so great that you were able to gain so much insight and experience...I think your story will be an inspiration for other patients in similar situations....Also, you should consider writing about Botox or Toxin injections for migraine treatment. This could be helpful and informative for other patients."


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