What if Migraines were a structural problem?

People have been scratching their heads about the cause of migraines for years. What triggers a migraine, what medications to give, what to avoid, what kinds of people have them… Is there a psychological basis? Neurological? Chemical? There are so many different theories!

But what if we step back for a moment and take a look at migraines from the basis of anatomy, physiology, structure and function?

Interestingly, when a person gets a head injury, we advise them to look out for are the very same symptoms that migraine sufferers know all too well: severe headache, photophobia, phonobia, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo, double vision...all signs of a severe head injury requiring immediate attention.  And yet those with migraines endure these symptoms in silence. Might it be that they have a head injury that is chronic in nature? That rather than there being an acute episode of something impacting the cranial structure they have something irritating it on an ongoing basis?

Recently, in the summer of 2015, the University of Virginia discovered that there is a third fluid source within the closed cavity of the cranium. This has huge implications for how we view migraines and how we treat them. In the past we have talked about dilation of blood vessels and created medications to constrict blood vessels. We looked at cerebral spinal fluid, doing lumbar punctures to assess the fluid, the amount and its pressures. Now we have lymphatic fluid as another contributing factor.  We already know that lymphatic fluid accumulates all over the body for multiple reasons including stasis, occlusion, and at the site of an injury as a protective mechanism.

If we apply those same principles to our head, could it be that if any one of our cranium’s 20+ bones were ‘off kilter’ they could impinge on lymphatic vessels and cause a buildup of pressure similar to a kinked garden hose? Could that pressure irritate some of the nerves that contribute to the pain experienced by migraine sufferers?

How do we measure these fluids to see if there is good flow? What technology exists to differentiate and measure the flow of these three fluids?

We see changes in the faces of persons suffering from migraines. From inflammation and irritation of the facial nerve to facial drooping and ipsilateral weakness. Multiple symptoms that are attributed to migraine can be accounted for by looking at structural defects. So rather than taking the direct-to-prescription route, FACE organization encourages providers to take a step back and look at the FACE of their patients and assess the craniofacial structure. Make sure that these are functioning properly, that the jaw is in the joint symmetrically and not potentially impinging on any vessels or nerves. Lymphatic fluid follows the tract of these cranial nerves.

If we were to correct those underlying structures and allow these fluids to flow freely we would in fact see exactly what we are seeing with our patients. It is curative in many cases. This headlong obsession with finding new drugs is preventing us from taking a step back and logically assessing structure and function.

While we are not undermining the need that some people have to use drugs on a temporary basis to alleviate their pain and suffering, we are advocating for a broader view and more long-term approach - that we don’t do any further harm to our patients by facilitating the drug addiction that we are seeing in our communities and the debilitation that comes from the side effects of taking these medications…

Let’s FIRST assess structure and function. The least invasive way to create the most efficient promise of resolution for these patients.

That is our goal with FACE and we hope you join us on this mission.

Julia Worrall