Most people who live with migraines have tried everything… special migraine diets, sleep hygiene, avoiding triggers and rounds of different medications. But it doesn’t always occur to migraineurs to try physical modes of treatment like yoga, massage or chiropractic care. It makes sense that body manipulation could affect the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches because stretching and adjusting the bones, joints and body tissues can impact the way blood vessels function (throbbing blood vessels being the physiologic root of migraine headache).
Chiropractic Care for Headache
Headaches are actually the third most popular reason that adults in America seek chiropractic care. The results of chiropractic care on migraine headache have been studied in several clinical trials with favorable results. The evidence suggests that spinal manipulation improves migraine headache. A systematic review of 21 different studies found that patients who received chiropractic care for migraines once or twice a week for eight weeks saw a reduction in migraine symptoms. The primary outcomes that were improved by chiropractic care were migraine frequency, intensity, duration and quality of life.
Integrating Chiropractic Care with Your Migraine Treatment
Spinal manipulation with chiropractic care has been a lifesaver for some migraineurs, but it’s important to collaborate with your headache specialist before initiating chiropractic care. Your headache specialist may even be able to refer you to a chiropractor who specializes in treating patients with severe migraine headaches. Your headache doctor may be encouraging, or he or she may know of some reasons why chiropractic is not appropriate for your symptoms. Chiropractic adjustment may interfere with some migraine medications and it’s contraindicated for patients with osteoporosis, nerve damage, numbness, tingling or loss of strength in an arm or leg.
How Will I Feel After a Chiropractic Adjustment?
Most people report feeling a little “off” following their first chiropractic appointment. These symptoms might include a slight headache, feeling tired, soreness in the spine and stiffness. It could take a few weeks to see any results in migraine frequency or intensity following chiropractic care. You can take care of yourself after your adjustment by drinking a lot of water, resting, taking a hot back and getting a good night’s sleep.
Spinal adjustments aren’t a cure-all for everyone with migraines, but almost a quarter of migraineurs who seek chiropractic care notice a reduction in symptoms of up to 90%. During your visit, your chiropractor may offer heat and ice treatments, massage, and strengthening and stretching exercises. In addition to spinal adjustments, your chiropractor may also recommend at-home exercises you can do to work on tension and discomfort in your neck and spine.
Bryans, R., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., Ruegg, R., & White, E. (2011). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(5), 274-289.
Miles, O. (2010, November). Chiropractic therapy. Retrieved from https://migraine.com/complimentary-and-alternative-therapies/chiropractic-therapy/