I am becoming more and more atune to the role of hormone imbalance as a contributing factor to patient symptomotology. Over the past several months I have really started to focus on hormone balance as part of the cold laser therapeutic regimen (Low Level Light Therapy) for my patients. I have found that by doing so I am able to achieve augmented symptom relief – especially when treating headache syndromes, auto-immune-related joint pains, and pelvis pain.
In general practice headaches can be especially challenging to treat. This is because there are potentially many contributing factors to headache symptoms. These factors include (but are not limited to): trauma (even mild trauma, such as banging your head on a door), infection (for example sinus infection, or virus nerve infiltration), neuralgic pain (such as trigeminal neuralgia), cervical disc disease (which can cause pain to radiate from the neck into the head), blood pressure changes, and hormone fluctuations.
Migraine headache is a quintessential example of a syndrome which is greatly influenced by hormone fluctuations and imbalances. Even at first glance this is evident by observing the distinction in migraine prevalence between genders. Pre-pubescent males and females are affected (roughly) equally by migraines. However, after the onset of puberty, migraine becomes 2-to-3 times more prevalent in females than males. Post-pubescent, nearly 20% of women suffer from migraines (less than 10% of post-pubescent males are affected by migraine). Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, affects multiple brain functions, including pain perception. As females reach the point in their hormonal cycle where there is a fall in estrogen, this becomes a potential trigger for so-called “menstrual migraine”. This is because a fall in estrogen leads to a change in prostaglandins, hypothalamic opioids, and prolactin secretion; and these changes contribute to the genesis of headache. For females the following life phases are associated with augmented hormone fluctuations and are thus associated with potential for headache exacerbation: menarche, menstruation, pregnancy leading to post-partum, peri-menopause leading to menopause, and (in some women) hormone therapy.
When women come to my practice I take care to specifically address the issue of hormone fluctuations and how these conditions may contribute to disease symptomotology. Ultimately, I aim to enhance symptom relief by specifically addressing hormone imbalance during office sessions with cold laser therapy. I urge all women to take notice of their own hormonal cycles and life phases. Your well-being may likely be affected by periods of intense hormone fluctuations, and I urge you to address this topic with whomever you choose to see as your primary care practitioner.
There’s an excellent article on the Impact of sex hormonal changes on tension-type headache and migraine for more reading on the National Institutes of Health website.
Next time I will talk more about auto-immune diseases and how hormone fluctuations play a role in disease pathology.
Cheers to Good Health!
– Dr. C