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HeadWay, Issue #010 -- The $5 solution
May 21, 2004

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In this month's issue:

The $5 Solution

Abdominal migraine

Say what?! The think system...

The $5 solution

People often come to me with migraine remedies and they wonder why I don't just jump at them. Many of you know, there are sometimes so many things to try that it can cost you a small fortune and take you the rest of your life. Other times you may feel like you've exhausted every possibility. Sure, if there was a solution I know would work, I would act now! But how can you keep spending all your life savings on things that just might help...a little...?

That's why it was refreshing when someone suggested something that would only cost $20 (although for me it ended up being $5). So here it is – a mouth guard.

You've heard a lot of talk about jaw issues and how they may be related to migraine or other headaches, especially morning headaches. Some people tense their jaw without knowing it, during the day or while they sleep. Others clench or even grind their teeth. In the case of clenching, doctors and dentists often overlook the problem.

A common trearment is dental “splints” which keep the jaw slightly open. They promote healing, proper jaw function and can keep you from tensing your jaw. Splints can cost $500 or more.

But some people find that a $5 mouth guard (used for sports such as hockey) does the job. Here's how it works:

Go to your local sports store (or check out and get a strapless mouth guard with a case. Put it in boiling water and mould it to the shape of your bite. Wear it overnight (give it a few nights – they take some getting used to). Be sure to brush it with toothpaste each morning. Try it for a month and see if it makes any difference at all.

If it doesn't help, you're out a few dollars. If it does, that indicates that your jaw is likely part of your problem. Consider doing some reading or visiting your dentist to talk about your options.

Important note: This is something to try temporarily. Even a poorly made splint can do damage to your jaw, so whether it's working or not be sure to see your dentist before doing anything long term. Remember, this newsletter is for your information and is not intended to give you medical advice.

Find a copy of Taking Control of TMJ to get you started. Dr. Uppgaard suggests some great exercises that you can do on your own to relieve headaches that come from your jaw. And a few exercises won't cost you a penny, and may be a great non-drug alternative!

Abdominal migraine

If you've hung around for very long, you know that migraine is a tricky thing, different for everybody. One of the strange examples is the abdominal migraine. Instead of headache, the pain is in the abdominal area. Many of the usual migraine symptoms may accompany abdominal migraine, such as nausea and aura. Diarrhea may be another symptom.

Abdominal migraine usually occurs in children, who may get a more classic version of migraine in later life. You can read more about children and migraine on our website.

Say what?! The think system...

Some of you may recognize the term “think system” as Professor Harold Hill's fabricated method for learning to play musical instruments in the musical “The Music Man”. But there is a think system that's real, that actually has some scientific research behind it. That system is called “biofeedback”.

Biofeedback is a way to learn to control functions of your body which are usually unconscious, such as heart rate or hand temperature. Sometimes electronic feedback is measured so that you can see what your body is doing. For the migraineur, biofeedback may help you learn to relax muscles and even hold back some of the symptoms that come with migraine and headache. It can be a good non-drug alternative to those suffering migraine during pregnancy.

Though there's still debate on the benefits of biofeedback, many prominent doctors (such as Seymour Diamond, MD and Dr Robert Uppgaard mentioned above) have found it to be helpful to many of their patients.

On a personal note...

This month we're expecting to welcome a fourth member of our family into the world, and in honour of the occasion I've included a few things related to child migraine and migraine during pregnancy. :-)All the best to those dealing with migraine during the many happy and sad moments of life!
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