Nerve irritation is the leading cause of headache and/or migraine pain for many sufferers. For some, the medication works. Unfortunately for many the relief obtained is temporary at best. A cycle of headaches and/or migraines and medication often occurs without any lasting relief found. If you think this describes your pain then there is good news for you. Recent studies link headaches and/or migraines pain to nerve irritation. One study, conducted at the University of Maryland, found a connection between muscle tension at the base of the neck and headaches. Muscle contractions interfere with the sensitive fibers at the base of the neck that lead to the brain and spinal cord. This muscle tension often plays a contributing factor to headache pain. Another study conducted by Dr. Wright found that the vast majority of headache and/or migraine migraine sufferers has misalignments of the spinal vertebrae in the neck that was placing pressure on the spinal nerves.
How can I get rid of my Headaches and/or Migraines naturally without drugs?
Most good chiropractors employ the use of physical, orthopedic and neurological tests to pinpoint potential causes of the headache and/or migraine. The practitioner will then use spinal adjustment (specific, gentle manipulation) to treat the headache and/or migraine, thus:
- Remove pressure on the nerves caused by spinal misalignments.
- Reduce tension in neck muscles to minimize nerve pressure due to tight muscles.
This strategy works for many headache and/or migraine sufferers. One study, conducted by the government of New Zealand found that the majority of people who suffered from spinal misalignments has their headaches and/or migraines relieved or their condition improved through chiropractic care. And in follow-up studies of the same patients it was found that many were still without recurring headache and/or migraine pain two years later.
Why would I have spinal problems in my neck?
There are many reasons. They can originally occur during the birth process, and as your body grows and matures. Also, falls, sports activities, motor vehicle accidents, bad posture or simply the stresses of daily living can cause spinal problems. It is also very common for headache sufferers to experience neck pain and stiffness.
But my headaches are migraines?
Migraine headaches are extremely painful, recurring headaches that are sometimes accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances–seeing and aura–or nausea and generally affect one side of the head. Migraine headaches can be triggered by chocolate, nitrites found in cold cuts,hot dogs, alcohol, excessive caffeine, cheese like brie or cheddar, sour cream and peanuts. if you suffer from Migraine headaches it is important to keep a food diary and correlate which foods cause headaches.
Tension headaches tend to occur frequently, last a long time and are characterized by a dull, steady pain that feels like a band of pressure around the neck. But despite these differences they are closely related. Chiropractic care has been proven to be extremely effective in treating migraine and tension headaches as well as neck pain and stiffness.
What will the chiropractor do to treat my headaches and/or migraines?
Your first visit will include a consultation, examination and possibly an x-ray to help diagnose your problem. Once your condition is fully understood, your chiropractor will explain your test and x-ray results and outline a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. Your chiropractor will perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment procedures that relieve stress and improve the function of your spine. Chiropractors may also provide advice relating to your posture, relaxation techniques and exercises. More often than not, you will also be advised on suitable health and nutrition habits. Combined together, all these approaches are sure to elevate your migraine headache and improve your health.
Research on Chiropractic and Migraines
Research published in JMPT in 2000 showed that some people reported significant relief in migraines after chiropractic spinal adjustments, and 50% of participants reported decreased frequency, duration, intensity, and medication use after only two months of chiropractic spinal adjustments1.
Another research article in JMPT in 19982 compared the effectiveness of chiropractic spinal adjusting to amitriptyline (a drug commonly used for migraines). Chiropractic care was as effective as amitriptyline in relieving migraines, but the chiropractic care was twice as effective as amitriptyline in the post-treatment follow-up (longer sustained relief).
A third article published in the Australasian Chiropractic and Osteopathy Journal in 19993 showed that chiropractic spinal adjusting reduced migraine frequency, disability, and drug use with only two months of treatment, and follow-up six months after treatment ended, many people reported sustained relief. Although these studies contained relatively small numbers of people (127, 218, 32 people respectively), the conclusions were similar, encouraging, and reinforce my clinical experience and the experience of many chiropractors and thousands of chiropractic patients.
1. www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(00)90073-3/abstract (research from the journal JMPT)
2. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9798179?dopt=Abstract (JMPT research article)
3. www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2051091&rendertype=abstract (Aust Chiro Osteo journal)