There is a common misconception that migraines are just bad headaches, but they are actually a specific type of headache with differing symptoms and the potential to be debilitating. For the over 37 million Americans who suffer from migraine headaches, relief is hard to come by despite trying a range of treatments. Chiropractic treatment for headaches is known to be very effective, but because of the unique conditions of a migraine, you may wonder if it can help in this area. The good news is that migraines can be effectively treated using chiropractic techniques– keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Migraine?
A migraine is a headache most commonly characterized by throbbing or pulsing sensations on one side of the head, as well as accompanying symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light or sound. These can often form episodes that last for hours to days, with the pain so severe that many people suffering from migraines are completely debilitated and unable to perform normal daily functions.
In other types of headaches, blood vessels are known to narrow, but with a migraine, they tend to expand. The surrounding tissues in the brain can become swollen, causing the pain associated with a migraine.
The cause of migraines is not fully understood, but they are believed to be related to changes in the brainstem and the trigeminal nerve, which is a major pain pathway.
During an episode, treatment will primarily focus on relief from pain and other symptoms. Most people find little difference from over-the-counter pain medication, though some prescription medications can help. However, medication is meant to mask or relieve symptoms but not to find the root cause of the problem, or some medications may reduce the frequency of these episodes.
Depending on the cause of the migraine, there is often no treatment that can completely eliminate the issue. Preventative medications and lifestyle changes are often the basis of a treatment plan. However, there is evidence that chiropractic care is another option that can be effective.
Chiropractic Care for Migraines
When you seek chiropractic treatment for headaches, this can take shape in a variety of ways. Many headaches are tied to stress or tension in the upper spine, which can be directly impacted by adjustments performed by a chiropractor. With migraines, this can be less straightforward as the exact cause is not known.
However, back and neck pain are both known to be triggers for migraines in people who are prone to them. Ensuring the spine is in alignment and posture is optimized can reduce future neck and back pain, which has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines in those who suffer from them.
Additionally, the health benefits achieved through chiropractic care can reduce symptoms from migraines, including inflammation.
Visiting the Chiropractor
When you first meet with a chiropractor and discuss your migraines, they may do some diagnostic scans and physical exams to determine whether there are any obvious misalignments or physical issues that could be contributing to your condition. These can also rule out other conditions that could cause similar problems. Once the chiropractor understands your condition and goals, they can create an appropriate treatment plan.
The majority of this plan will revolve around manual adjustments of the spine designed to restore or maintain alignment. When the spine is not properly aligned, the central nervous system is not able to communicate between the brain, the spine, and the body, which can cause a breakdown in all bodily functions. These issues may cause or exacerbate migraine symptoms. Through a series of adjustments, these can be positively influenced by a spine that is more in alignment.
Adjustments will also increase joint mobility and flexibility over time, making the body healthier and more able to cope with pain. Even if migraines continue to occur, you may notice that you’re able to take on more during an episode or recover more quickly.
If you suffer from migraines and would like to talk with a chiropractor, AICA Atlanta is here to help. Our team of experts will consult with you on your medical history and current concerns and create a treatment plan customized to your goals. With access to neurologists, pain management specialists, and other experts, your care at AICA Atlanta is holistic and centered on your individual needs. Call us today to schedule your first appointment and begin experiencing relief from migraines as soon as possible.