If you suffer from migraines or know someone who does, you know just how disabling a migraine can be. Not only are the symptoms of an active migraine attack painful and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, pre- and post-migraine phases are also unpleasant. The entire attack can last up to three days, and many migraine patients have multiple episodes each month.
Indeed, migraines are complicated with numerous potential causes, risk factors, and triggers. Fortunately, chiropractic can help to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Here’s what you need to know about migraines and chiropractic care.
According to Healthline, migraines are intense, severe headaches that often have accompanying symptoms such as pain behind one eye or ear, nausea, and vomiting, temporary vision loss, pain in the temples, light sensitivity, or seeing flashing lights or spots.
The Mayo Clinic notes that the causes of a migraine aren’t understood, but that heredity and environmental factors seem to be involved. Other factors thought to contribute to migraines include changes in the brainstem and how it interacts with the trigeminal nerve (which plays a role in pain); chemical imbalances; and a drop in serotonin during a migraine.
In addition, migraines can be triggered by various factors such as:
- Hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause
- Certain foods, food additives, and drinks
- Certain medications
- Environmental changes
- Sensory stimuli such as bright lights or strong smells
- Sleep disturbances
- Physical exertion
Some people are more prone to migraines than others due to risk factors such as genetics, age, or gender or due to hormonal changes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, migraines typically have four stages:
- Prodrome — In some people, symptoms of a migraine begin to appear a day or two before the head starts throbbing. These symptoms vary but can include mood changes, neck stiffness, food cravings, constipation, increased thirst, or frequent yawning.
- Aura — Auras are neurological symptoms, typically visual disturbances. that affect some, but not all migraine sufferers. They usually appear gradually and last for up to an hour before or during the attack.
- Headache — The headache portion of a migraine attack usually runs from four to 72 hours.
- Post-drome — After the attack, patients may feel exhausted, elated, moody, confused, weak, dizzy, or sensitive to light and noises for about 24 hours.
The Migraine Research Foundation says that migraine is the 6th most disabling illness in the world. Moreover, it is poorly understood and often undiagnosed and under-treated.
How Chiropractic Can Help Migraines
Chiropractic treatment is one option to explore for migraine pain relief and prevention. Below are several ways that chiropractic can help with migraines:
- Spinal manipulation — According to the American Chiropractic Association, studies show that spinal manipulation improves migraine headaches and may be an effective treatment for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. A Duke University study showed spinal adjustments resulted in nearly immediate and longer-lasting headache relief with fewer side effects (than with pain medications).
- Small misalignments in the spine can irritate the nerves and muscles. By realigning the vertebrae, that pressure and irritation are removed, helping to alleviate the pain right away.
- Meanwhile, your chiropractor can help to further reduce the likelihood or frequency of future migraines by addressing issues that cause strain on your back and neck muscles such as poor posture.
- Lifestyle choices — Many chiropractic practices focus on overall wellness. Since certain lifestyle choices are known triggers, your chiropractor will likely discuss topics such as: stress relief, foods and drinks to avoid, sleep patterns, exercise, and depression or anxiety. A change of diet or vitamin supplements may be suggested or exercises and relaxation techniques shared.
- This whole body approach to wellness can help prevent migraines, reduce their frequency and severity, and improve other areas of your life and health.
- Trigger identification — As part of the lifestyle conversation, your chiropractor may dig deeper, helping you to identify your personal migraine triggers such as the foods and stressors that trigger your migraines. This typically involves keeping a migraine diary where you track what you eat and drink, how well you slept, and other environmental factors encountered each day. You’ll also track your migraines. This exercise may reveal a cause and effect, enabling you to avoid those triggers and the subsequent migraines they would have caused.
If you suffer from migraines, you could benefit from chiropractic care. Schedule a consultation today to discover a non-invasive treatment to relieve your pain now and reduce the frequency and severity of future migraine attacks.