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migraine cortical spreading








Approximately 28 million Americans suffer from migraines, and millions go without treatment. Scientists once thought migraines were caused by abnormally dilated or enlarged blood vessels. Now, new imaging devices have allowed them to watch brains during migraine attacks, and scientists are discovering that sufferers have abnormally excitable neurons or brain nerve cells.

The latest migraine research has yielded a mechanism called cortical spreading depression, or CSD. Prior to the onset of pain in a migraine, researchers have observed a sudden burst of cortical activity that occurs most commonly in the occipital lobes (back part of the brain).


The occipital lobe will increase in frequency of firing, or have a burst of activity, and then there will be an episode of silence or depressed activity. The actual activity of the brain becomes depressed when compared to normal. The resulting pain comes from either the brain stem activation or from blood vessels inflamed by rapidly exchanging blood flow – or both.

As a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in Brain Based Therapy, I take a different approach to the treatment and prevention of headaches and migraines. After a thorough neurological examination, I determine which part of the nervous system is not functioning properly.


In many headache and migraine sufferers we often find a high mesencephalic output. (Learn more about this and How Brain Based Therapy Can Help Migraine Headache sufferers here)

There are three parts to the brain stem: top, middle, and lower. The mesencephalon is the top part of the brain stem. A high output of the mesencephalon will cause an increased pulse and heart rate, inability to sleep or waking up from fitful sleep, urinary tract infection, increase warmth or sweating, and sensitivity to light.

Along with a high mesencephalic output, the patient may have a decreased output of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is in the back part of the brain, and it controls all of the involuntary spinal musculature.

No matter what the condition, it is imperative that the we perform a thorough and comprehensive Spinal Examination ( Spinal Alignment), a Functional Neurological exam and Metabolic evaluation to determine the exact nature of why you suffer.

Learn more about Functional Metabolic Testing here

Return to the migraine headache overview or continue reading to find out about the 5 underlying causes of over 90% of chronic headaches.