Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive way to relieve migraine suffering without the use of medication. Chiropractic migraine treatment is not for everyone, but it may be particularly useful for patients who cannot use prescription medication due to other risk factors.
Migraine headaches are idiopathic. This means that despite the last century’s advances in medical science their cause is still unknown. A number of theories exist to explain migraines. They include a possible serotonin deficiency in migraines, genetic malformations, and arterial swelling in the cranium.
A common chiropractic theory is that subluxations in the muscles at the base of the skull and the neck cause, or contribute to, the formation of migraine headaches. Subluxations are tense areas in the muscles adjoining the small bones of the upper spinal column. On an x-ray, the bones appear to be in the correct place and medical doctors often miss the tension in the muscles. A chiropractor gently manipulates the spine to relax these subluxations.
Chiropractors offer two varieties of care for migraine patients, straight chiropractic and mixed chiropractic. Straight chiropractic only involves the manipulation of the spine and spinal subluxations. Mixed chiropractic care combines traditional manipulation with other complementary techniques. The focus in mixed chiropractic is to reduce overall neck strain and tension.
Researchers at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota recently compared chiropractic care with drug therapies for migraines and chronic tension headaches. The study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Two hundred eighteen headache patients were given either drug therapy or regular chiropractic care. Both groups reported a 40-50% reduction in headache pain at the end of the study.
Follow-ups four weeks after discontinuing all care showed only the chiropractic group still enjoying the pain reduction the treatment initiated. Only 20-25% of the drug therapy patients were still benefiting from their treatment at this follow-up.