How Pain Distraction in Migraine Works
Migraine creates multiple problems for a migraine sufferer: Head pain, aura, naseaua, vision loss, sensitivity to light, sound and smell. This is a shortlist of the common complications of migraine. But what of the shortlist of tools migraine suferers have available to them to fight migraine episodes that do not include medication? Where the side effects are worse than the migraines themselves! Of the migraine tools available to fight a migraine to block pain without medication distraction techniques are an effective option. Let’s explore how humans use distraction against pain and how we can apply it to migraine.
Process of Distraction in Migraines is like Distraction in Children
The wail of a child’s cry is unmistakable. As humans we rush to respond to comfort a child in distress. We will do whatever it takes to stop the crying. Have you ever wondered where we learn some of the methods we use to get children to stop crying? How or why we distract kids the way we do? Distracting kids from their tears must be as old as time.
Example of Children’s Distraction from Pain
Imagine, a little boy is running on the playground, he trips, falls, and bumps his knee and starts to cry. Who wouldn’t? Asphalt hurts. As parents, we can’t stand to see our children cry, so what do we do? Anything it takes to stop the crying. How? We divert the crying child’s attention elsewhere. We look around and spot a dog nearby and point it out to the crying child. The child immediately stops crying. Why? The cute dog they find so interesting distracts the child. All babies like dogs!
Did the knee stop hurting? Not likely, it still stings. But it went to the back of the mind because the dog is the priority in the baby’s brain, it’s much more interesting!
Relevent, scientific research in the field of child distraction has been popular for decades. Many studies on child distraction support what we all have experienced first hand, either as a parent or as a child: distraction works.
When a Migraineur Experiences Distraction from Migraine Pain
Think back to a time when you had one of your worst migraines. A migraine that put your hair on fire, searing your brain and every thought you could muster. Your head is pounding and throbbing out of your skull. Your eyes bleary, your vision compromised. And your body is weak as if it took a cannonball to the gut, robbing you of your energy and leaving you nauseous.
But you could not lie down. There was somewhere important you had to be? Someone was relying on you? There were no alternatives you had to be somewhere. Whether it was a meeting at work, a deadline you had to meet, a family member needed taking care of, or your children needed after school care.
Whatever it was, you made it there and got through, no matter how bad you felt. You rose to the occasion. You did what was necessary, all while experiencing a devastating migraine. No one was stopping you, not on this day.
As soon as you finished focusing on whatever it was you had to do, all the migraine symptoms came rushing back. They never left did they? But your migraine was out of focus for as long as your attention was elsewhere. Your migraine pain and symptoms were in the back of your mind so long as your attention was on the activity you gave all your focus to.
That is distraction of a migraine.
This is the same as pointing out a cute dog to the child who fell and skinned their knee.
Distracting Pain with Non-Pain activities Acts As a Pain Reliever
Distracting pain with attention and focus on other activities is scientifically proven.
Most noteworthy, in the paper titled “A neurocognitive model of attention to pain: Behavioral and neuroimaging evidence” written by Legrain, Valérya,*; Damme, Stefaan Vanb; Eccleston, Christopherc; Davis, Karen D.d; Seminowicz, David A.e; Crombez, Geertb and published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain – PAIN: August 2009 – Volume 144 – Issue 3 – p 230–232A states that attention plays a key role in the mechanism by which sensory events are selected and enter awareness. That attention and pain has limited-capacity in human cognition, and pain can exceed processing capacity, and hence require attention to select the signals needed for goal-directed behaviors. Thus, directing attention away from pain information would exclude it from further processing and in this way be acting to relieve pain.
In other words, if you focus your attention on an activity other than pain, such as a migraine, the non-pain activity will act as a pain relieving activity.
Big takeaway: Do things to take the pain away from migraine. Anything.
Distraction of Migraine Takes Practice
As a result, using methods of diversion to manage your migraines is a skill that takes practice. Responding to migraines in a positive, active way versus a habitual, reactive response is not easy. Once embraced, diversion methods will lead to a more productive and fulfilling life.
Do you wish to take command of your migraines? To learn more about distraction methods and the powerful tools Through Migraine™ uses to combat migraines?
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Either way, health be with you and Never Stop Moving…