By Dr. Kyla Nelson

Migraines can be a debilitating headache for many people. Migraine headaches have numerous potential triggers, which is why determining the best course of action can be difficult. Below are typical characteristics and triggers of a migraine, as well as steps you can take to improve or eliminate your migraine headaches.

Characteristics of migraine-type headaches
  • Recurrent, moderate-severe headaches
  • Last 4-72 hours
  • Throbbing pain located over one side of the head
  • Commonly associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity or visual disturbance (aura)
Common triggers for migraines:
  • Poor sleep hygiene (irregular or lack of sleep)
  • Irregular or skipped meals
  • Stress
  • Caffeine consumption (coffee, chocolate, soda)
  • Lack of physical activity
Current research demonstrates the following conservative care recommendations for migraine headaches:
  • Spinal adjustments for episodic or chronic migraines
  • Massage therapy focusing on neck, shoulders and back musculature
  • Multi-disciplinary care including exercise prescription, relaxation/meditation techniques, as well as nutritional counselling
Stress can be a huge trigger for migraines. Ensure that you take time out of each day to look after yourself. A few self-care options to help your migraine symptoms are below:
  • Try daily yoga or meditation techniques to help relax and relieve stress.
  • Eliminate foods that trigger migraines (i.e. caffeine, chocolate, alcohol).
  • Take a daily 15-20 minute walk outside!
  • Sleep! Ensure that you get 7-9 hours sleep per night.

Headaches vary tremendously from person to person. If you aren’t sure what is causing your migraine try keeping a “headache diary”. This will help your practitioner determine potential triggers for your headaches, which will allow them to design a treatment plan that best fits your needs.

If you have more questions about migraines and conservative management please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at or 905-853-7900.


Becker, Werner J., et al. “Guideline for primary care management of headache in adults.” Canadian Family Physician 61.8 (2015): 670-679.

Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guideline for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jun;34(5):274-89.



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