According to the American Migraine Foundation, 12 percent of Americans suffer from migraines. One in four families has an affected member. Combined medical costs, work time-loss and decreased productivity are estimated to impact the U.S. economy by more than $20 billion annually. There is no known cure for migraines. Current treatments aim to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of the headaches when they occur. Chiropractic treatment is one option for migraine sufferers.
The American Migraine Foundation describes migraine as an inherited neurological disorder characterized by hyper-excitable brain networks that may become spontaneously activated or may be activated by specific triggers. Headache pain is the most prominent feature of migraine. This pain is often severe and can lead to missed work and social withdrawal. In some, the pain is preceded by warning symptoms such as visual disturbances or sensitivity to light or noise. The headache may be followed by a period of fatigue, poor concentration or mood changes. The headache pain typically lasts about 24 hours, but the entire episode may play out over two to three days.
The Chiropractic Examination
An initial chiropractic evaluation will begin with the taking of a history. The mode of onset, frequency, quality, location, duration and severity of the headaches will be discussed, along with associated symptoms like visual disturbances, nausea, light and sound or odor intolerances. The family history may be helpful, as well as a review of other health problems, including current medication use. The chiropractic evaluation will focus primarily on the musculoskeletal system. Posture and muscular asymmetries may be contributing factors. Particular attention will be paid to the muscles and joints of the neck. The neck muscles will be examined for tension or spasm. Reduced global or segmental motion in the neck, if found, will probably be a primary focus of the chiropractor’s treatment.
Spinal manipulation, the primary treatment modality of most chiropractors, has been studied in the context of migraines. A large study involving 127 participants was reported in the February 2000 issue of the “Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.” In this study, the subjects who received two months of chiropractic treatment experienced significant improvements in migraine frequency, duration, disability and medication use compared to the control group. Twenty-two percent of the participants reported more than 90 percent reduction of migraines.
Certain foods, alcohol, caffeine, fatigue, sleep changes, eye strain, light conditions, exposure to certain odors or use of certain medications may individually or collectively act as triggers to a migraine episode. Working with a chiropractor can help in identifying likely triggers and developing strategies for their avoidance.
The chiropractor generally takes a holistic approach to health problems. Lifestyle considerations are a big part of that approach, and in the case of migraines, lifestyle factors appear to play a prominent role. The American Headache Society makes specific lifestyle recommendations for those suffering with migraines. These include getting adequate sleep, eating and exercising regularly, staying hydrated, limiting consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and reducing stress. A chiropractor can assist his patients in implementing these and other helpful strategies.
About this Author
Ron Rogers, a Washington chiropractor, has worked with local and national regulatory bodies in his profession and has provided consultation to the national chiropractic licensing board. He is recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Rogers’ works have been published in several peer-reviewed professional journals, covering topics ranging from musculoskeletal diagnosis to research-based rehabilitation strategies.
Thanks for Sharing Dr. Rogers.
If you suffer from migraine headaches give us a call at Loving Chiropractic and Wellness. Using the latest technology, Dr. Loving’s unique health approach combines the proven Impulse, ArthroStim, and VibraCussor instruments that help his patients get well with literally no twisting or popping of their spine.