Migraines & Chiropractic
Migraine is the second most common type of headache, affecting both children and adults. Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines. Migraines also run in families.
They have a mild onset and then gradually get worse. Symptoms often associated with a migraine can include headache, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and noise and an aura.
An aura is the feeling right before the migraine starts and can last up to an hour, which 25% of patients will experience. Some common triggers for migraines are stress, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, lack of food, weather changes, bright lights, loud sounds, alcohol, and certain foods or drinks.
Migraines develop when there are changes in blood flow in the brain, which causes pain in or around the head. It occurs when the 5th cranial nerve is stimulated; which sends pain signals from the eyes, scalp, forehead, and jaw to the brain. This will lead to a release of substances that cause painful irritation in the blood vessels of the brain, brainstem, and the surrounding tissues. This irritation is responsible for the throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines over time can become chronic. Chronic migraines occur 15 or more days per month for more than three months. Even though migraines are not life threatening, they can have a major impact on one’s productivity and quality of life.
Management can include medication and methods to eliminate triggers. Other recommended treatments include exercise, yoga, relaxation, stress relief, and nutritional counseling.
The nervous system controls blood flow in the body including to and from the head. Structural spinal shifts can occur that lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. Correction of these subluxations can normalize nerve function and improve blood flow thereby helping with migraines.
The patient reported on in this study was a 59-year-old female who had been suffering her whole life from chronic migraines and what are called “hypnic” headaches that would wake her up at night. Medications and other medical care did not help her.
The chiropractor examined her and found structural shifts in her neck, mid and low back. Other assessment and testing revealed significant changes in her posture, decreased ranges of motion, and muscle tightness. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.
The woman was adjusted by the chiropractor and she experienced complete resolution of the migraines and headaches following care. The study’s authors called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population of patients.
Resolution of Chronic Migraines & Hypnic Headaches in a Woman Following Chiropractic Care: A Case Report. Elke Niddery, DC & Joel Alcantara, DC. Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Reasearch ~ Volume, 2019.
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