UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – On this Aspirus Medical Monday the focus is on National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

According to headaches.org, migraines impact forty million people in the United States, and one billion people across the globe, and are recognized as the number two cause of disability worldwide. Jeff Baril, the director of Regional Therapy Services for Aspirus in the U.P., explains the difference between a migraine and a headache.

“There’s actually 150 different types of headaches, migraine is one of those types and it is the second most common type. The most common is actually tension headaches. But migraines do differ from the common tension headache in that they typically last longer and they also have other symptoms associated with them. So the symptoms are nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as a sensation or an aura is often present prior to the headaches. So that aura can be changes in your visual field. It can be flashing lights, numbness on your face, and changes to your sense of taste and smell,” said Baril.

Baril goes on to explain the causes of migraines and headaches.

“Truthfully, migraines are not fully understood. But migraines, just like a lot of other common headaches, there are triggers associated with these headaches that are commonly external triggers. So these triggers can include poor posture, noise, depression, lack of sleep, diet, stress, and eye strain at the computer. Because there are so many different types of triggers it’s really important for patients or migraine sufferers to track their symptoms. Often times I’ll have patients create a log of what they were doing prior to their headache, what they ate, the situation they’re in, and the posture they’re in. That can really help all healthcare professionals kind of come up with a treatment plan to best treat the migraines or headaches.”

There are treatments available for individuals who suffer from headache or migraine pain.

“First of all, the most important thing is you need to consult your primary care provider. As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of triggers, not all of them are physical. So talking this over with your physician can help identify areas of stress, depression, maybe your diet. There are different modalities that physicians can use to help with those factors. Speaking from a physical therapist’s point of view, we often will be treating the musculoskeletal component of headaches, which is one major trigger, especially for tension headaches,” said Baril.

“We’ll be looking at a common posture which is in a seated posture we often slouch and when we slouch we often extend our spine or extend our neck and when that happens we put pressure on the back of your neck which then causes tension up your neck into your head. So the treatments that we’ll provide are often some manual therapy techniques that will take pressure off of those areas along with therapeutic exercise to help maintain the mobility and strength in your neck. Most importantly though is actually the home exercise program that is given to a patient that they can do on their own to help manage and maintain the improvements with therapy.”

To learn more about Aspirus Health’s specialized treatment options for patients who suffer from headache or migraine pain, you can visit www.aspirus.org/headache-therapy.