This is the typical migraine patient that walks into our office, and it’s heart-wrenching to hear that they have suffered so long. After hearing story after story like this, we have come to discover that one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with migraine is the fact that migraine has not been well understood historically. Because of this, each practitioner will treat migraine with their preferred treatment method, instead of treating migraine for what it is. For example, a medical doctor will prescribe medicine, a nutritionist will recommend a diet change, a chiropractor will adjust the spine and neck, the acupuncturist will perform acupuncture, etc. etc. While all of these treatments can actually be very beneficial, they don’t address the bigger picture of migraine.
Migraine is an altered brain state that allows certain areas of the brain to fail, or fatigue. When those parts of the brain fail, you get a migraine. This can present as the classic head pain, or vertigo, or ocular symptoms, or even hemiplegia… They all share a similar pathophysiology. The end result of this dysfunction causes imbalances in neurotransmitters, so medications like triptans can be very useful, but they don’t address the cause. These medications are designed for emergency situations, which is great if you only have one migraine every month or two, but if you are having 10 or more migraines per month you can see clearly that they do not address the cause. Things like nutrition, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, etc. are all great therapies because they can decrease the amount of stress on the system. However, if you don’t have much musculoskeletal stress, acupuncture may not look like it’s helpful for you, even though it seems like a miracle for someone else. The same thing happens in all the aforementioned professions. The key is addressing the nutritional, musculoskeletal, hormonal, and neurological causes all at the same time, which leads to a more balanced brain state, and therefore a reduced number of migraines.
It is also very important to understand that if you’re prone to migraine, you’re always prone to migraine. This isn’t to say that you can’t go very, very long times without migraine, you will just always have that predisposition. Every migraine patient is on a spectrum, with one end being migraines every day, and the other end being migraines every decade or so. The whole goal of treatment is to move you down the spectrum as much as possible. Every decision to either eat healthy, or exercise, or any number of healthy choices will push you further up or down the scale, no one stays the same. Migraine can be a progressive condition. This is why we encourage mainly healthy choices, but we don’t want you to beat yourself up if you eat something unhealthy when out with friends or for special occasions. Sometimes the stress of worrying about eating poorly is worse for you than the food itself! The key is to have a habit of healthy, but be okay with exceptions.
This understanding is what has set our migraine program apart and why patients are traveling from literally all over the world for real help. If you or someone you know is suffering from migraines, I’d be happy to speak with them on the phone to see how we might be able to help them. When I meet a migraine patient who has suffered for 20, 30, even 40 years, all I can think is what if we could have met them 20 years ago and saved them all that suffering. That’s what drives myself and our entire team to continue helping more and more people.
- Dr. Adam Harcourt
Dr. Adam Harcourt is leading the way for migraine treatment because of his vast knowledge of migraine and concussion. Dr. Harcourt is also a Professor of Clinical Neurology at the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies, where he travels both domestically and internationally instructing other doctors on his cutting-edge methods of treating migraine and concussion. His book “Mastering Migraines” comes out in Summer of 2018, he has 2 current papers from 2016 that he presented at the International Symposium of Clinical Neurology (ISCN) to be published in Frontiers of Neuroscience on his treatment of Concussion and Migraine. He will also be presenting his most recent research and novel treatments of migraine at ISCN in May 2018 to doctors from all around the world.