Migraines: A Big Problem for Young Dancers
Does your young dancer complain about headaches multiple times per month?
If so, you may not be alone. Migraine headaches are well known to affect adolescent girls at much higher rates than boys. The hormonal changes that a young lady goes through as their body develops can take some of the blame, but just blaming hormones can be a bit short-sighted.
Chronic Migraines May Start in Childhood
A chronic migraine problem can be easily missed while your child is growing up. Headaches are a common reason that kids use to avoid going to school, or performing activities that they don’t want to do. It’s also hard to tell if a child is experiencing a general tension headache or a more complex neurological disorder like a migraine. It’s an important thing to recognize because 10% of school-aged kids suffer from migraine headache, and many will carry this illness into adulthood.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines in children tend to have less severe head pain, and most cases don’t have the visual disturbances associated with a migraine aura. These are the most common cues that adults use to determine if they have a migraine, but it’s harder to elicit this data from children.
Things to look out for:
- Lack of appetite
- Fatigue and withdrawl from fun activities
- Mood changes
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Hours of lethargy
Proper Treatment for your dancer
For many children, there are simple lifestyle changes that can help reduce the impact of migraines. These include:
- Sleep is the most important factor
- Avoiding strong odors
- Reducing screen time
- Looking for food triggers – chocolate, soda, artificial sweeteners are common triggers
When those don’t help, it’s likely a case that should be evaluated by your doctor. Patients with chronic migraine problems tend to be more sensitive to other problems later in life. Chronic migraine patients have worse outcomes when it comes to head injury, which is always a small risk in the dancing community. They also tend to be more affected when they are involved in car accidents which can affect anyone and everyone.
An assessment by the pediatrician and neurologist is warranted for preventitive medications, but doctors want to use caution because of the risk of rebound headaches. There’s also some drugless options.
Headaches Can Be Caused by the Neck
Headaches shouldn’t be a normal part of childhood. In many children, the problem that caused chronic headaches may have been a result of a hard birth process.
When a child is born, a tremendous amount of forces are placed on the infant’s head and neck. These forces can have a detrimental effect on the tissues of the head and neck leading to displacements in the neck. While these displacements aren’t obvious in infants and toddlers, the symptoms can start showing up as the child gets older. When you combine a hard birth process with child hood falls from walking and playing, then you have a fertile ground for the development of headache and migraine.
Kids Need Gentle Care
A lot of parents are reluctant, and even terrified of letting a chiropractor touch their child’s neck. I don’t blame them, the appearance of a traditional adjustment/manipulation can be scary!
In my office, we use very gentle and precise procedures to assess and correct the neck. The main procedure we use is called a NUCCA correction. You won’t see any popping, twisting, or cracking associated with a standard manipulation, and this tends to put a parent’s mind at ease.
It’s also important that your chiropractor has a background in pediatric care. A child’s spine is not just a small adult. There are different factors that need to be considered to help pediatric cases get the most of their chiropractic care.
Fortunately, the younger the patient is, the faster they tend to respond, especially with a condition like headaches. By correcting the underlying cause of a child’s migraine problem, you can help ensure that your young dancer doesn’t have to lose multiple days of their life to debilitating head pain.