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Migraines Athletes – Pt 1

Athletes, Migraines, Upper CervicalMigraine Medication and Weight Loss

When Trent Richardson played for the Cleveland Browns, he lost weight, but it wasn’t because he went on a diet or started exercising more. He may have been doing those things, but his weight loss was attributed to his migraine medication. Richardson made this statement about his use of medication to deal with this pain and suffering.

“I’ve been taking migraine medicine my whole life, like a normal person would do if they had migraines. Migraines are one of the worst things that you can ever have, he said. They’re real tough. It doesn’t come that often, but when it does, you’ve got to catch it at the right time or it sticks with you.”

In the Good Company of Migraine Sufferers

Though, Richardson is not alone in suffering from this debilitating pain both on and off the field. Other athletes who suffer from migraine pain are listed below:

  • Dwayne Wade
  • Percy Harvin
  • Troy Aikmen
  • Serena Williams
  • Terrell Davis

Two Types of Migraines

Unfortunately, migraines headaches are not uncommon in sports that involve collisions or contact. Participants are likely to sustain head and neck trauma that could lead to various types of injuries and cause headaches.

One type of migraine that is not uncommon in athletes is an Effort migraine. In one study, those headaches were seen in 9% of 128 subjects, and they had started during the athletes childhood by an average of age 15. A second type of migraine is a spontaneous migraine, which is not related to the sport itself or exercise. These were experienced by 55% of all patients and 6% of all sufferers had a family history of people who suffered from migraines.

Next week, we’ll look at two other types of migraine headaches that athletes sometimes suffer from. We’ll also look at the one common answer to finding relief from this pain that many times starts in a person’s upper neck vertebrae.

For a headache to occur with prolonged exertion, additional triggers may be required. Such triggers include heat, altitude, bright light, dehydration, or low blood sugar. Swain and Kaplan reported headache development after use of certain types of athletic equipment. Poorly fitting mouth guards, tight helmets, and goggles were noted as potential triggers for the athlete with migraine.

“Goggle” migraine has been described by neurologist Alan Pestronk. He developed a migraine headache beginning 1 to 2 hours after exercise and occurring only on days when he swam. His father, a retailer of sporting goods, noted anecdotally that his customers frequently complained of headache associated with the use of ill-fitting swim goggles. When Dr. Pestronk changed to a goggle not requiring a tight head strap, he had no further migraine headaches.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at 2 other types of migraines that are common in contact sports and the possible solution.

Some estimates suggest 25% of the population has a headache right now!

A comprehensive U.S. study reported that 10 million Americans suffer moderate to severe disability from various forms of headaches. It’s time that people know there is an answer to their headaches other than potentially harmful medications.

To find a Doctor in your area go to or if you are in the Victoria, British Columbia area to book your NUCCA evaluation, click the button below:

Dr. Ankur Tayal and Dr Matthew Kittleson of UC Life Chiropractic Centre in downtown Victoria, British Columbia are Victoria Chiropractors and Upper Cervical Specialists trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Their upper cervical clinic also serves Saanich, Esquimalt and Vancouver Island. They are uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including migraines and other headaches, fibromyalgia, vertigo and dizziness, numbness and tingling and more. More information can be found on their website at


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