Migraines are a common problem experienced by approximately 15% of the population. Migraines often come with partial neck pain that incorporates the head causing headache.
Medications are a common first treatment for the pain but do not always provide sustainable relief. Oftentimes patients find relief by visiting a chiropractor—a health expert focused on treating neuro-musculo-skeletal (nerve, muscle and joint) disorders and pain. There are no other types of health expert that can focus on realignment of the spine, ergonomics, exercise and therapies to treat neck pain more than a chiropractor.
What causes a migraine?
Simply put, migraines are typically a chronic condition of recurring episodes of throbbing headache that may include nausea, vomiting and/or sensitivity to light and smell.
Though the cause of migraines have been debated, many experts believe that migraines are triggered by:
- Blood vessel rupture
- Nerve communication changes
- Disordered brain chemical imbalance
The migraine triggers listed above can come from the following:
- Stress: According to the American Migraine Foundation, 70% of people who have migraines list stress as a trigger. Finding ways to decrease stress can help migraine sufferers experience less migraine symptoms.
- Nutrition: Food triggers are common with migraine sufferers. Processed and salty foods are significant factors in foods that may trigger a migraine.
- Sleep: Most migraine sufferers report irregular sleep cycles or not enough sleep (8+ hours per night). Increasing sleep time will improve migraine symptoms as well as reduce other migraine triggers such as stress.
- Hormones: Women are three times more likely to experience migraines due to estrogen secretion fluctuations. Menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause can also trigger fluctuations in estrogen secretion which may trigger a migraine.
Note- A migraine is different from a headache. Headaches occur due to vasoconstriction which blood vessels around the brain become narrowed. Migraines occur due to vasodilation (expansion) of blood vessels.
General Diagnosis and Techniques Chiropractors Use
When you go to a chiropractor for migraines, they’ll administer a series of tests like most other doctors and health experts. They’ll use a hands on approach with specific equipment to find the exact cause of related neuromuscular disorders (like migraines). A chiropractor may also recommend a CT or x-ray scan for a more accurate diagnosis.
Techniques chiropractors typically use are hands-on or manual adjusting, instrument adjusting and even tables that may raise slightly and drop to administer adjustments.
How a Chiropractor Treats Migraines
Approximately 15% of people who experience migraines have sought the help of a chiropractor. Evidence and studies are showing the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments for migraines.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study showing that utilizing different chiropractic processes can help reduce the migraines experienced by study participants by half.
A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics concludes that spinal manipulative therapy (adjusting) improved study participants’ health with migraines in 2000.
Chiropractic treatment offers the following benefits when it comes to treating migraines:
- Restoration of nervous system communication
- Restoration of normal blood flow
- Immune system improvements
- Decrease irritations of brain pain simulation
What to expect at your first visit:
- A full cross check of health history which may include x-rays or MRIs
- Diagnostic tests, including a physical exam of the spine and extremities
- From the health history and testing, the chiropractor will determine a treatment plan
- The chiropractor will likely have you lay face-down initially.
- Pressure will be applied to the misaligned spinal bones or the area of pain. This may involve gentle adjusting, massage or other adjunctive treatment.
- You may hear a pop sound or feel a slight cracking sensation.
After treatment the chiropractor may recommend additional therapies including:
- Heat or ice therapy
- Exercises to stretch or strengthen
- Massage therapy
- Nutrition advice
- Continued chiropractic adjustments
Migraines can impact daily life and happiness. Jobs, hobbies and even family life can be impacted significantly by migraines. If you have a migraine, consider visiting your local Harker Heights chiropractor. This simple action may save you a lot of time and money on treatments that may either treat the pain rather than the cause and not work as effectively.