Dr. Stephanie Kinsey, owner and founder of Palencia Dental in St. Augustine, provides options for patients with migraines and help with understanding the causes and triggers.
According to Kinsey, the term “migraine” and “headache” are often interchangeable, however, almost every headache is some form of migraine.
“When we talk about migraines, it’s not just the aura-producing monster that leaves you calling in to work to seek out a dark room and a forehead wash cloth. It can also be the nagging head throb that hits you at any time of day, or all day for seemingly no reason,” she said. “The debilitating discomfort can be a sharp pain in the front, back or side of the head. These are all migraines and patients should not have to suffer.”
Kinsey added that usually periodic attacks of severe headaches on one or both sides of the head may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity of the eyes to light called photophobia, increased sensitivity to sound called phonophobia, dizziness, blurred vision, cognitive disturbances and other symptoms.
“Migraines can be a brutal, life-changing experience that touches every part of a person’s existence from work life to home life to recreation, and they can feel like they’re not able to enjoy life to the fullest because of a constant throb, dull ache or all-out assault that migraines present,” Kinsey said.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is not just a bad headache, it’s a disabling neurological disease with different symptoms and different treatment approaches compared to other headache disorders. The foundation research shows that at least 39 million Americans live with migraine, but because many people do not get a diagnosis or the treatment they need, the actual number is probably higher. The nonprofit organization further states that migraines can be classified as episodic or chronic.
People with episodic migraines have 14 or fewer headache days per month. People with chronic migraine experience more than 15 headache days per month (for three or more months) with at least eight that include migraine features. In some people, episodic migraine can become chronic, which may occur if the disorder is not recognized and treated correctly.
“When people think about migraines the first thing that typically comes to mind, if you are even able to concentrate at all with a migraine, is pain killers. That is the immediate remedy, but like most immediate remedies, it’s very temporary. And worse yet, it typically gets to the point where over-the-counter pain killers won’t even touch a mid-level migraine, much less a four-alarm migraine,” said Kinsey. “At our dental practice, we recommend eliminating environmental causes. Some people claim that coffee triggers their migraines, and some people say it wards them off. Some people think allergies are to blame, and some think it comes down to sleep. Still others think it is all about computer posture or lack of sleep.”
Kinsey believes the true cause of migraines is almost always deeper than environmental factors. Environmental factors like food and allergies are called triggers for a reason because they trigger a patient’s migraine, but they don’t cause it. Instead, the problem often lies with imbalances in the head and neck area.
“Everything in the head, neck and jaw needs to be in symmetry, and when it isn’t, the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint where the jaw connects to the skull will start to act up,” she said. “When that happens, all sorts of issues may arise like dizziness, brain fog, pain and migraines. The effect that this joint has on the surrounding areas cannot be understated.”
Palencia Dental patients have experienced solutions for migraines, which includes fixing the imbalances with one or more simple procedures. The process starts with an assessment that includes a painless head scan. The scan will show where the imbalances are causing issues, then Kinsey will use one or more types of treatments to make corrections such as muscle stimulation therapy to balance the strength of the jaw from side to side. Whether the solution is simple or more involved, a scientific approach can remove the guesswork for migraine treatment. Kinsey specializes in migraine therapies and has cured migraines that patients have experienced for decades.
“The whole process is comfortable, caring and customized to treat you as an individual,” Kinsey said.