Headaches! They are unpleasant things that slow you down. Most can be handled with over-the-counter medication and some rest. But a migraine headache comes with significant pain and can last for hours, even days. It needs more than ibuprofen and a nap.
In the United States, migraine headaches affect more than 39 million people, from children to adults. In addition, about 144 million around the world experience them.
There is no cure for migraines, but some treatments are effective at holding them in check, including medication. One type of treatment that has become more prominent in recent years is chiropractic adjustments. Migraine symptoms may affect the neck and spine, so they fall into the chiropractors’ area of expertise.
What is a Migraine Headache?
The long-lasting pain from migraine headaches can be severe. It may come with a throbbing sensation, an upset stomach, and oversensitivity to sound and light. Symptoms such as mood changes, neck stiffness, or fluid retention can appear days before the migraine attack. The attack itself may last for 4 to 72 hours. Patients may experience an aura—visual illusions, pins and needles, or difficulty speaking. Fatigue generally follows the attack.
What are the Main Causes of Migraine Headaches?
The medical world is uncertain of the exact cause of migraine headaches. However, the problem may originate from an overactive nervous system sending signals that cause swelling in the blood vessels lining the brain, leading to inflammation and pain.
This inherited neurological disorder can be activated by a number of triggers, such as changes in hormones, bright lights, certain foods or smells, the weather, or stress. It’s different for everyone.
Other triggers include caffeine, tobacco, loud noises, certain medications, physical activity, and changes in sleep patterns. Women have migraines three times as often as men, and most of the people affected by migraine headaches are between 10 and 40 years of age.
What is the Traditional Treatment for Migraine Headaches?
Treatment focuses on the migraine attack itself and works to prevent headaches in the future. It usually consists of pain relievers and other prescription medication or devices designed to stop the pain. Preventative measures may involve medication, medical procedures, devices, changes in lifestyle, and avoidance of known triggers.
Recent technology has produced several devices that help ease migraine pain and other symptoms without medication. For example, one device is applied to the forehead and electrically stimulates a nerve that causes migraines. A second device, controlled by a smartphone app, sends electrical pulses to the arm. However, these devices can be expensive, and not all are covered by insurance.
There are medications available to treat migraines in progress, help prevent them, and prevent any symptom from worsening. Oftentimes, doctors prescribe muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications to keep any migraine symptom in check. Unfortunately, they often pose the risk of significant adverse effects, such as drowsiness or rebound headaches, and don’t address the problem in its entirety.
Since no one wants to deal with the adverse effects of migraine medication, many turn to chiropractic care for drug-free help.
Can a Chiropractor Treat Migraine Headaches?
Approximately 75% of people with migraine headaches complain about neck pain and stiffness, muscle tension, and jaw issues. This falls squarely into the realm of the chiropractor. Not only does the chiropractor treat the symptoms, but they also address the underlying issues causing the pain.
One recent study suggested that as many as 53% of chiropractors were treating migraine headache patients.
While there is not yet much research into the effectiveness of chiropractic care for migraine headaches, early results show that it may be as effective as preventative medication. Other patients with chiropractic treatment reported more days without pain, decreased medication intake, and less anxiety.
Thus far, studies suggest that chiropractic care may help reduce the frequency, strength, and duration of migraine headaches,
Collaboration between Medical Doctors and Chiropractors
Medical doctors are not always familiar with chiropractic treatment and its benefits for migraine headaches. But in the last several years, the collaboration between the two professions has increased steadily.
With research beginning to show the efficacy of chiropractic care, more medical practitioners are interacting with chiropractic experts and integrating their services for enhanced overall patient care. It also helps that patients often ask for chiropractic care to avoid the adverse effects of medication.
Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Migraine Headaches
Chiropractors treat migraine headaches with spinal manipulation and adjustments to relieve headache pain and reduce stress. Soft tissue therapy includes massaging the muscles and joints and myofascial release massage, which targets muscle-supporting membranes. Chiropractors may also advise patients on posture and lifestyle and dietary changes.
Trigger Point Therapy for Headache Pain
Some patients find relief in the stimulation of pressure points. Applying pressure to specific areas of the body can help reduce the many symptoms associated with migraine headaches. More research is needed to support effectiveness, but practical application is pointing in that direction.
Types of Headaches Treatable with Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic treatment affects other types of headaches as well. Here are two examples.
Almost everyone experiences tension headaches from time to time. They may come from daily stress, repetitive actions, or poor posture. The headache pain travels from your neck to the base of your skull to your head.
Chiropractic treatment, such as spinal manipulation, can strengthen the muscles and relieve the pain resulting from tension headaches.
A cervicogenic headache originates in the neck. It can be caused by a sudden neck movement or by the neck remaining in one position for too long. Symptoms include pain on one side, pain when you cough or sneeze, and a stiff neck. Chiropractic treatment for cervicogenic headaches involves spinal manipulation, massage, and physical therapy.
Is There a Chiropractor for Migraines Near Me?
Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center has offices in Cliffside Park, Hackensack, and Fairfield, New Jersey. For patients with migraines, we provide spinal manipulations as a pain reliever and to improve spinal function. In addition, we use a variety of soft tissue treatments to alleviate symptoms and address the underlying condition.
Our goal is to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. We invite you to contact us for an appointment today to create an effective treatment plan for you. We will work with your physician to develop the best solution for your specific condition. Also, we invite you to visit our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments.
You do not need to live with frequent migraine headaches. We are here to help!