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Chiropractic Treatment of Migraine

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Chiropractic treatment is a viable alternative to pharmacological treatment for migraine and intractable headaches, and could be considered if:

• The patient's use of migraine medications is contraindicated.
• The patient has found the medications ineffective.
• The patient would prefer not to use medications.
• The patient is pregnant or breast feeding.

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a method of adjusting the bones in your body to improve your nervous system function and allow healing from various ill health problems. Joints can be realigned to relieve pain such as backache, sports injuries and migraine.

Does it Work?

A recent review in the Journal of Headache Pain showed that female migraine sufferers who had been diagnosed by a neurologist had a 50 percent improvement in the severity of their migraines, compared to only a 13 percent improvement for women undergoing physical therapy.

In another study carried out in Australia, the patients were divided into three groups, one group had cervical manipulation done by a chiropractor, the second group had it done by a physical therapist or doctor and the third group had cervical mobilization done by a physical therapist or doctor.

They found that all three groups benefitted from the treatment. Chiropractic adjustment was found to be as effective as physical therapy and treatment by a doctor, despite doctors being doubtful of its use before the trial. Twenty months later, all the patients were followed up and they all showed further improvement.

The review also looked at other forms of alternative therapy such as massage therapy. They concluded that chiropractic treatment, relaxation, massage therapy and physical therapy may be equally as effective as drug treatments for migraine. (1)

Help for Pregnant Migraineurs

Women who suffer chronic migraines may find they go into remission when they get pregnant, or that the migraines ease. This is because pregnancy produces more endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.

Hormones are also more stable during pregnancy. Women cannot get menstrual related migraines when pregnant.

Add a Comment19 Comments

Chiropractic care can also benefit migraines because it emphasizes healthy eating and sleep in addition to just pills.
Chriopractic care opens the pathway for the body to heal itself ,the most common side effect of chiropractic is relief of symptoms.Headaches are not normal period , be wise not to ignore them , chiropractic may be a solution for you.
home chiropractic

May 2, 2013 - 8:15am
EmpowHER Guest

Good that you are feeling better.

However, two alternative explanations are: i) simple placebo effect, and ii) the natural history of the disorder.

Hopefully point ii) will see your neckache go away in due course.

December 12, 2011 - 10:47am

Actually, it's 4 weeks without one now I think about it :)

December 12, 2011 - 8:40am

Just want to announce that I did manage to recover from neuralgia with chiropractic care.  I haven't had a neuralgia attack for about 3 weeks (before that it was constant and had lasted over 17 months), my headache is gone.  I have neck ache that he said is muscular and advised me to put a hot compress on it, but I have no daily headache and feel tons better than before.

If it comes back in the future I can go back to him, but I've signed off for now and feel happy that I can have Christmas without headache, unlike last year.

December 12, 2011 - 8:39am
EmpowHER Guest

Poor little "anonymous"...the earth is still flat and the blood flows through the body by the force of the moon...good luck with that!
Michael T Breneman DC

November 16, 2011 - 11:21am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Crikey - I didn't realise they still teach that stuff at Life?

November 16, 2011 - 8:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

I think that there is a lack of good quality evidence for chiropractic for any condition. Remember it was invented by a greengrocer. That's greengrocer, folks - not scientist.

November 14, 2011 - 11:07am
(reply to Anonymous)

Well, vaccines were invented by a vicar and you believe in those, right?  I'm having chiropractic treatment for neuralgia now and I don't have a headache today (I have had one for 17 months) so I think it is working.  I can also move my head more easily and I'm stronger because I can push the chiropractor away from me and I wasn't able to on the first consultation.  I feel so much better and that's only after two sessions.  The doctors wanted to give me anti-seizure drugs for it which make one in 500 people suicidal, as I have a history of depression I said no.  All their options are drug options and as I already take medication for osteoarthritis I didn't want to take anymore medication.  The doctor didn't want to do surgery on me, he said it was too risky, so after 17 months of pain almost every day, I decided to try and chiropractor and so far I am improving and am really pleased with my care and the amount of time the chiropractor devotes to my care.  That's why I wanted to write this so that others in similar situations might also benefit like I have.

November 14, 2011 - 12:40pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Joanna Karpasea-Jones)


I appreciate what you say and I guess you write in good faith. (That is, your partner isn’t a struggling chiropractor on the back streets of Iowa.) Anyway, have you considered that your improvements and the visit to the chiropractor may not be causally linked? It’s common for people to attribute causation to things that co-occur, but that doesn’t mean chiropractic actually has provided a cure. It may simply be that you are getting better all by yourself.

The best way to test the effectiveness of chiropractic is by RCT. Those, unfortunately for chiropracty, tend to show chiropractic works around the level of placebo. There is research that purports to show chiropractic works above and beyond placebo, but it is generally of the lowest level, such as case studies by chiropractors published in the ‘journal’ JSVR. Most scientists consider the basic principles of chiropracty to be biologically implausible.

A further question for you: does your chiropractor crack your neck? (They’ll call it upper cervical manipulation.) If they do, you might want to look up ‘risks of chiropractic’ in Dr google. It may shock you.

Regarding the vicar: Did she/he then go off making vaccines in their garden shed and hawking them around neighbourhoods whilst proclaiming they were a figure like Jesus Christ? I doubt it. But that’s roughly what D Palmer did. Until his son BJ ran him over and took over the family business. (Yes, that’s business!)

November 16, 2011 - 8:11pm
(reply to Anonymous)

No, he's not a chiropractor, he's a photographer, he does weddings etc.  Before that he used to fix computers, none of us are alternative therapists. 

My chiropractor didn't 'crack' anything, nothing went crack.  It was quite gentle.  He gently moved C2/3 (they are fused) back into the correct position and the headache went immediately for a few hours.  I had felt twisted up for months and could barely turn my head and could not 'un-twist' myself, couldn't sleep etc.  Well, the twisted feeling went straight away.  I wish my doctors had checked my neck instead of just giving migraine drugs because they would have seen this too.

On the second adjustment he adjusted a few neck muscles and spent half the time doing this massage which was the most pain relieving thing I have had in years.  I had no pain that day, the next day I got a fever and was completely wiped out which I took as a positive sign that the immune system was finally trying to kick this problem.  I have not had any headache since (I know it's only been a few days but that's amazing considering I've had this intractable headache for 17 months).  All I have now is a bit of nerve pain in the shoulder (that started before the chiropractor).  I have two more sessions and hope that it will all be sorted by then. 

There were plenty of side-effects to the medications I was taking, and to the hip injection I had for osteoarthritis but I still had them because I was in too much pain to function.  That's how I feel about chiropractic adjustments, whose side-effects are probably much less than the treatments I had already had.

Believe me, I was in SO much pain I was bed ridden many days, dosed up on very high level codeine and muscle relaxants just to go out of the house for a little bit.  It didn't even respond to steroids or anasethetic.  I was so desperate I asked the doctor to open my head and remove the nerve, and I am not the type of person that likes invasive actions but I was losing all quality of life, so I know there is no way that my adjustments were placebo effect, I was too ill for that.  I fully expected the anasethetic blocks to work so technically should have had a placebo effect with that, yet it didn't work.  

I didn't actually think the chiropractor would help because I figured if this headache is so stubborn it sticks around for 17 months then nothing is going to shift it.  I think it's perfectly biologically plausable, if the spine is twisted that puts pressure on all the muscles and nerves and could result in a neuralgia.  If then you put the cervical spine into the correct position and massage the muscles to relieve the strain put on them, you are taking the pressure off the nerve. 

Well, the inventor of vaccines burnt women at the stake for being 'witches' and practicing 'black magic' and he even wrote a book about witch killings.  I personally think that is crazier :)


November 17, 2011 - 2:39pm
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