What is a migraine?
A migraine is a headache characterized by a throbbing sensation on one side of the head and sometimes other symptoms such as nausea, light-headedness and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines can interfere with day-to-day life and symptoms may be so severe that they disrupt concentration, interrupt sleep and cause weakness and fatigue. Some people who suffer from migraines find they need to take time off work or school and even stay in bed.
Migraine headaches can build up gradually over the course of one or two hours and can last anything from four hours to three days.
A migraine may affect a person as often as once a week or as rarely as once every few years. Attacks usually start during early adulthood and tend to get less troublesome as a person grows older.
The condition is common, affecting around one in every 5 women and one in every 15 men. Women can have menstrual migraines, with attacks occurring monthly, around the time of their period.
The exact cause of migraines is not known, but it is thought to involve temporary changes in nerves, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. About half of people who suffer from these headaches have a close relative who also has the condition, suggesting a genetic element.
Some people find the onset of a headache is associated with certain triggers, such as stress, menstruation, fatigue and certain foods or drinks.
There is no cure for migraines, but there are approaches to help relieve symptoms, reduce pain and decrease their frequency.
Reflexology is an alternative therapy where the thumb and fingers are used to apply pressure to reflex points on the feet, hands or ears that are thought to correspond with organs and glands in the body.
Reflexologists believe this sends a “calming” message from peripheral nerves to the central nervous system, which instructs the body to reduce tension. The practice is thought to aid circulation and improve the symptoms of many health conditions.
Research has been conducted in the United States and worldwide to examine the potential benefits of reflexology for reducing pain, anxiety and depression.