A researcher at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina says ice-cream headaches can give us valuable insight into other forms of headaches, particularly migraines.
Neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin explains that a brain freeze occurs when cold food or drink spend too much time cooling the area at the back of the palette where the interior carotid artery and the anterior cerebral artery pass close to the surface of the skin. Blood travels from here directly to the brain, so cooling it down too much can lead to a stream of blood to act as a coolant for the brain.
What this means is that, and the blood is released onto the brain, it will constrict the vascular tissue it finds there. Specifically, it will cause the meninges to contract, the tissue between the brain and skull that acts as a protective layer. This shrinking of the brain’s overcoat causes the pain we associate with brain freeze, since it’s here that the sensory neurons actually exist. In the brain itself, there are no sensory neurons, and thus no way to feel this temperature-based torture.
Godwin said that “one thing the brain doesn’t like is for things to change, and brain freeze is a mechanism to prevent you from doing that.”
According to the geek.com article, the best method for relieving the pain of a too-cold brain is pretty logical: just warm it up. Pressing your tongue against the back roof of the mouth will work, but the best solution is drink hot liquids.
Brain freeze is useful in headache research both because they seem to share many of the same mechanisms, including changes in blood flow. Many of the classical symptoms of a migraine (vision problems, throbbing pain, etc.) may come from similar sources. So if you’ve never had a migraine, you might just be able to sympathize by imagining a 4-hour ice cream headache.
The best solution for a migraine, just like the brain freeze, is to get the cause of the problem. For many people migraines began after a head or neck trauma, such as a car crash, fall or other accident. Traumas like these can cause misalignments in the upper neck. Misalignments in the upper neck have been shown to lead to changes in blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow from the brain to the body and the body to the brain. These changes in fluid exchange in the brain have been linked to many conditions, including migraine headaches.
The best way to correct a misalignment in the upper neck is by utilizing the NUCCA system. NUCCA doctors perform a postural examination in order to determine body imbalance and then take precise 3 dimensional upper neck x-rays in order to mathematically calculate how the misalignment needs to be corrected. After the initial correction, follow-up 3 dimensional x-rays are taken in order to ensure that the misalignment is being corrected properly.
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Dr. Armen Manoucherian of Health Edge Family Spinal Care in Glendale, California is a Glendale Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). He has helped many children and adults find natural relief in Glendale, California. His upper cervical clinic also serves the communities of Pasadena, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Burbank. He is 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. More information can be found on his website at http://www.healthedgela.com.