Chiropractic and Migraines: What the Research Tells Us

Chiropractic has a long history of positive results for migraine and headache sufferers.

My clinical experience has been the same for just about every individual that has entered my office suffering from headaches or migraines as well.

Robin was one of those individuals. Watch the video to hear her story.

There are hundreds of similar stories in the literature and thousands and thousands more that have never been properly documented.

But what has the research shown us and why does chiropractic help those with migraines and headaches?

Chiropractic and Migraines Research

One case series looked at the effects of chiropractic on migraine sufferers. Amazingly, the frequency of episodes was reduced on average by 90%, duration of each episode by 38%, and use of medication was reduced by 94%. In addition, several associated symptoms were substantially reduced, including nausea, vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia. (1)

In a larger study, a group of 87 patients with common or classical migraine received chiropractic adjustments and the results were analyzed two years later via a headache questionnaire. Of the patients with common migraine, 85% of females and 50% of males were either improved or their headaches ceased altogether, while patients with classical migraine showed an improvement rate of 78% for females and 75% for males. (2)

In one of the largest randomized controlled studies on the topic so far, 72% of the chronic migraine sufferers had noticeable improvement with 22% of those having over 60% of their symptoms reduced. Frequency of migraines, length of time they had them and the need for medication were all significantly reduced. (3)

In a more recent study, chiropractic care was shown to reduce migraine symptoms significantly and when compared to other provider types, the chiropractic patients reported a greater reduction in pain associated with their attacks. (4)

Another study showed that chiropractic was at least as effective as various medications without the potential serious side effects those medications carry with them. (5)

Overall, the literature is ripe with case studies and despite the limited number of clinical studies on the topic, the results have been very encouraging. (6)

Why Does Chiropractic Work for Migraines and Headaches?

The answer to that question lies in the anatomy of the upper neck.

The lower portion of the brainstem sits at the level of the first bone in the neck. That area also houses the main blood supply which travels up through that bone and the opening into the skull.

Normal and Subluxated Cervical Spine San Diego Chiropractor Chiropractic
When there is a shift in normal spinal structure impacting the delicate neurovascular system, it is known as vertebral subluxation.

Shifts in spinal structure, known as vertebral subluxation, which are caused by the body’s inability to handle excessive physical, mental and chemical stressors, will necessarily impact the delicate nerve fibers and vascular supply that travels through this region.

Severe head pain is simply the natural response to a situation that is damaging to the body.

Is Chiropractic a Treatment for Migraines and Headaches?

Chiropractic is no more a treatment for headaches than it is for autism, sensory processing disorder, epilepsy and other conditions people present with in my office. However, with that said, the quality of life of these individuals and their symptoms improve once stress has been removed from the nervous system.

Those results speak for themselves and can transform lives.

Today, more and more people are understanding the value of having their spine and nervous system’s checked throughout a lifetime in order to maintain optimal health, function and well-being.

Chiropractic is great at helping the sick get well, but it is equally fantastic and helping them stay that way.

Whatever the case, having a chiropractic evaluation is the first step in both directions.

Want more information or to schedule a consultation?

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References:

1.  Tuchin P.J. A case series of migraine changes following a manipulative therapy trial. Australas Chiropr Osteopathy. 1997;6:85–91.

2Wight J.S. Migraine: a statistical analysis of chiropractic treatment. Am Chiropr Assoc (ACA) J Chiropr. 1978;15:S63–S67.

3Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23(2):91-95.

4. Parker, G. B., Tupling, H. and Pryor, D. S. (1978), A Controlled Trial of Cervical Manipulation for Migraine. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine, 8: 589–593. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.1978.tb04845.x

5. Bronfort G, Assendelft WJ, Evans R, Haas M, Bouter L. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic reviewJ Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001;24(7):457-466.

6. Vernon, Howard T. The effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of headache: an exploration in the literatureJournal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 18.9 (1994): 611-617.

7. Additional Headache and Migraine case studies and research papers.