Migraines and headaches can be debilitating and interfere with daily life. Traditional treatments often involve taking medication, leaving those who prefer not to risk the side effects of pain medicine without much recourse. Fortunately, chiropractic care can provide relief for some who suffer from migraines and headaches without the use of drugs. Read on to learn more about the benefits of chiropractic care for migraine and find answers to frequently asked questions about chiropractic as a treatment for migraines.
What is a Migraine Headache?
A migraine headache is rooted in the brain. It is a specific type of headache that causes severe, throbbing, or pulsating pain (usually on one side of the head) as well as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
What Are Common Triggers for Migraines?
There are a lot of things that trigger a migraine, and triggers vary from person to person. That said, common triggers include:
- flashing or bright lights
- loud noises
- strong smells
Can a Chiropractor Help with Migraines?
Yes, chiropractic treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of some migraines. It’s important to note that not all migraines can be treated through chiropractic. The success of chiropractic adjustments as treatment depends upon the cause of the migraine or headache.
Can Spinal Misalignment Cause Migraines?
Yes, some migraines and severe headaches can be caused by spinal misalignment. In particular, cervicogenic headaches and tension headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches are often confused with migraines as their symptoms can be so similar. The major difference lies in the root cause: migraines stem from the brain whereas cervicogenic headaches stem from the cervical spine. That’s what makes chiropractic treatment so successful for them. Essentially, when the top two bones in the neck are not functioning how they should, that’ll cause increased tension in the area around it. So, those muscles tighten up and become tense and you get the pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion associated with cervicogenic headaches.
Treatments: Which therapy is best for migraines?
Again, it depends on the cause of the migraine and pain. If it’s a cervicogenic headache, the pairing of massage and chiropractic is definitely the best therapy. As the chiropractor, I can make sure the spine is realigned and the skull’s sitting on top of those bones the way it should. The massage therapist will make sure the suboccipital muscles are released and that the upper trapezius muscles that connect in that area calm down and function. Together, those therapies make a highly effective treatment for pain relief.
How do chiropractors treat migraines?
First, the migraine has to be diagnosed and the cause has to be determined. Again, not all migraines can be effectively treated with spinal adjustments or other manual therapies.
If it’s determined that it’s cervicogenic in nature and is coming from the musculature and the bones at the base of the skull and upper cervical spine there are plenty of options for treating and relieving that pain.
First is an adjustment to ensure the bones are sitting and functioning the way they’re supposed to. Additionally, massage is a viable treatment option to help release tension in the muscles that is contributing to head pain. Moreover, someone suffering from a cervicogenic headache is typically also experiencing neck pain and a reduced range of motion. Massage therapy, particularly trigger point therapy, can help alleviate the pain in both the head and neck and support an improved range of motion.
Addressing the pain and its cause is important but treatment shouldn’t stop there. A holistic approach where we identify possible triggers – whether they are in your diet, your frequency of exercise, stress management, etc. – and then offer tips and tricks to eliminate or avoid them is necessary and something we provide at Smerglia Chiropractic. Any chiropractor treating chronic pain conditions should be looking at the big picture of the patient’s wellness.
That’s also why treatment may include recommendations for other, alternative therapies like acupuncture.
Is Massage or Chiropractor Better for Migraines?
Ultimately, they go hand in hand. It is called your musculoskeletal system for a reason. Those muscles are connected to the bones, so both the muscles and the bones need to be working optimally for relief; chiropractic addresses the bones and massage addresses the muscles and soft tissues.
Does Acupuncture Work for Migraines?
Some research has shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating migraines and cervicogenic headaches. This therapy, both by itself and in conjunction with other manipulative therapies has shown significant reductions in headache intensity, frequency, and disability all while yielding a lower rate of adverse effects compared to drug treatments.
It’s important to mention that the safety and efficacy of acupuncture treatment depend on the practitioner’s skill and experience. It’s essential to choose a qualified and licensed practitioner for your treatments. Don’t just blindly reach out to a practitioner – ask your chiropractor for a referral. After all, you want your team of healthcare practitioners to work together cohesively when providing treatment.
When to See a Doctor for a Migraine
When the pain is disrupting or preventing you from engaging in normal, daily activities, you should seek care from a doctor. In particular, if you’re experiencing abnormal pain (as if it’s the worst headache you’ve ever had), you lose vision or consciousness, are vomiting from the pain, or are experiencing pain and other symptoms for 72 hours or more, you need to seek medical care immediately. Those are signs of an emergency. You need to seek treatment and care right away.
Does chiropractic care treat other types of headaches?
Similar to cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches can often be effectively treated with chiropractic adjustments and manual therapy as the cause is rooted in muscle tension. Chiropractic treatment in conjunction with soft tissue therapies (like massages) can help to relax the muscles that are ultimately causing the pain.
Begin Drug-Free Treatment for Your Headaches Today
At Smerglia Chiropractic, our holistic approach to health and wellness includes non-invasive, drug-free treatment for a wide range of ailments including headaches and migraines. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you manage pain and discomfort today.