Chiropractic Treatment for Migraines
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Migraines may vary in frequency and intensity, but all are incapacitating and debilitating in many ways. Migraine sufferers can miss work and other engagements due to the intense head pain. In fact, 39 million Americans are affected by migraines, including children. Migraines are bad enough on their own. Associated symptoms often include nausea, dizziness, disturbed vision, and a sensitivity to bright stimuli, as well as pain on both sides of the head. Pain relief doesn’t have to come from over-the-counter medication. Chiropractic treatment is an effective alternative to try for your recurring migraines.
What are Migraines?
Migraines fall under a group known as primary headaches which also include tension and cluster headaches. Unlike other headaches that are symptoms of more serious physical problems, primary headaches are the main and only symptom. Scientists have suggested reasons for migraine attacks, but no exact causes have been found. During migraines, blood vessels in the brain dilate leading to inflammation and nerve damage. To complicate matters more, migraine patients (about 80%) are at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke.
Research on Migraines and Chiropractic Treatment
In 2014, the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that headaches were effectively treated by chiropractic care. Research suggests that some migraines are associated with a misalignment in the upper neck. In a 2011 meta-analysis of studies on manual therapies, one study found that chiropractic care showed improvement in migraines in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration. Another study performed at the Northwestern College of Chiropractic found that chiropractic manipulation was just as effective as a standard antidepressant prescribed to treat migraines. While some studies are criticized for a lack of control group or irrelevant results, there are migraine sufferers who have found relief with chiropractic sessions. Additionally, chiropractic care doesn’t come with side effects associated with prescription drugs.
How Does Chiropractic Care Treat Migraines?
Chiropractic treatment for migraines works by adjusting bones, joints, and muscles to improve blood circulation in affected areas. Patients often report that their migraines start or come with neck pain. Chiropractors believe that migraines are associated with upper cervical problems or misalignments in the spine. A misaligned spine can be the cause of many conditions, as well. They focus on relieving tension in muscles in the neck, and use other mobilization techniques to ensure no nerves are pinched. Chiropractors use diverse techniques including the Gonstead method, both of which involve manual adjustments, to reduce migraines.
How to Reduce Migraines
Triggers for migraines include processed or salty foods, caffeine and alcohol, changes in the weather, medication use, stress lack of sleep, hormonal changes. In fact, changes in serotonin and estrogen have been linked to higher rates of migraine attacks. The triggers mentioned above can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain causing blood vessels to dilate. In combination with a migraine diary (to keep track of triggers) and healthy lifestyle choices including exercise, migraines can be a thing of the past. Chiropractic care can be your last line of defense when nothing else helps.