If you suffer from migraines, you’re certainly not alone. They’re relatively common, affecting an estimated 10% of the population. The intense pain and accompanying symptoms can make it impossible to participate in daily activities.
What is a Migraine?
Migraines typically affect the front of one side of the head with intense throbbing pain and can last up to 72 hours. Migraine sufferers often experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound. Prior to the onset of a migraine, many people experience an “aura” that is described as seeing stars, having auditory hallucinations or strange smells, and even cravings.
While the exact cause of migraines still leaves researchers at a loss, they know it involves changes in blood flow to the brain. It begins with blood vessels narrowing, and then suddenly enlarging. Migraines can also be triggered by alcohol, skipping meals, or too little sleep. Foods containing nitrates (a preservative found in processed meats), monosodium glutamate (MSG) and caffeine can bring on a migraine. Women are 3 times more likely to have migraines than men and birth control pills can aggravate the condition further.
A range of medications are often prescribed to treat migraines including steroids, antidepressants and pain killers. These drugs carry many risks of dangerous side effects and most often are not effective in treating migraine symptoms. Traditional medical care for migraine relief involves the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as prescription painkillers or over-the-counter drugs like Advil or Aleve. These drugs may seem harmless, but overuse is linked to gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, ulcers, and a host of other side effects. Triptans, a more powerful class of drugs used to treat migraines, actually increase sensitivity to migraine “triggers,” making migraines occur more frequently (Ann Neurology 2010:67:325-37).
Chiropractic for Migraines
Chiropractors are experts at correcting dysfunctional areas in the spine called vertebral subluxations. Vertebral subluxations are removed with gentle and effective maneuvers called chiropractic adjustments.
Migraines are related to the nervous system and the core of the nervous system is the spinal cord. If the vertebrae (spinal bones) that surround the spinal cord are out of alignment, migraine headaches are one of many painful ways vertebral subluxations can manifest.
Chiropractic Treatment Can Make A Dramatic Difference
While there are no cures for migraines, it has been shown that chiropractics can provide a significant lessening of recurrence, and in the event of a migraine, can shorten the duration and reduce the amount of pain experienced.
What can be done to get rid of migraines? According to a recent study, chiropractic care may hold the answer.
One hundred and twenty-seven Migraine patients (at least one Migraine per month) were divided into two groups for comparison. Group 1 received chiropractic adjustments at specific vertebral subluxations determined by the treating practitioner; group 2 served as controls and received inactive treatment (electrical stimulation with no current delivered). Subjects receiving chiropractic adjustments reported substantial improvement in Migraine frequency, duration, disability, and medication use following two months of treatment. One in five participants reported a 90% reduction in Migraines, and half reported significant improvement in Migraine severity. (Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 2000: Vol. 23, No. 2, pp91-95.)
Studies reveal that chiropractic adjustments offer the relief migraine sufferers often seek from medication, but without the risky side effects. In one such trial, migraine patients were assigned to three groups, each receiving a different therapy for eight weeks. Group one received amitriptyline (an anti-depressant commonly prescribed for migraines. Group two received chiropractic adjustments. Group three received amitriptyline combined with chiropractic adjustments. All groups maintained daily headache journals for twelve weeks.
After the eight week long treatment, the patients who only received chiropractic adjustments reported a 42 percent reduction of pain compared to 24 percent who received medication and 25 percent for medication and chiropractic therapy (Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1998;21:511-9).
Are you tired of Migraine headaches ruining your day? With conventional over-the-counter medications proving less than effective (and often accompanied by dangerous side effects), it’s time to fight the pain from another angle. To find out more about the potential benefits of chiropractic care, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Carpenter.