MIGRAINE AND CHIROPRACTIC
Prevention of Migraine
Chiropractors acknowledge that there are many causes of headaches. Migraine headaches are recurrent/episodic moderate or severe headaches which are usually unilateral, pulsating, aggravated by routine physical activity and are associated and are associated with nauseas, vomiting, photophobia or phonophobia.
Pain can be mild, moderate or extremely severe, throbbing in nature, unilateral or bilateral.
Migraines and Chiropractic Treatment
Migraines can often be debilitating, with some people being unable to even leave the house. It’s an intense and throbbing pain, which often occurs in one side of the head, although it can be more generalised.
Migraines fall into two main categories:
Migraine With Aura – called a Common Migraine
- Visual disturbances – wavy lines, flashing lights, blind spots
- Stiffness or tingling in neck, shoulders, or limbs
- Lack of co-ordination
- Slurred or muddled speech
- Loss of consciousness (very rare)
Migraine With An Aura – called a Classic Migraine.
- Sensitivity to light (Photophobia)
- Sensitivity to noise (Phonophobia)
- Sensitivity to smell (Osmophobia)
- Feeling cold or hot
- Inability to think clearly or perform normal activities
- Loss of concentration
Generally after a migraine episode, people experience fatigue and poor concentration, as well as a feeling of being washed-out.
Causes of Migraine
The causes of migraines are not fully understood. There are a several theories as to the cause.
- It is thought that the initial vasoconstriction of the arterioles causes the prodromal and aura symptoms in advance of the headache. The lack of oxygen causes the localised release of Serotonin and this results in vasodilation that causes arteries here to widen, leading to the headache. As the arteries widen the pain intensifies. Migraines appear at intervals with days, weeks or months between attacks rather than being a daily headache.
- Nervous system theories suggest rapid changes in the activity of nerve cells in the brain cell and in particular the brainstem have been implicated in migraine and a chemical messenger called Seratonin is also thought to be involved.
Chiropractic Management for Migraine
Chiropractors treat migraine headache using a package of care that may include manual therapies, exercise, therapeutic advice and postural advice.
There is evidence to support this approach to patient management:
- Bronfort GEffectiveness of non-pharmacological treatments for headache. European Journal of Chiropractic, 49, 2002, pp54-Bronfort G, Nilsson N, Haas M, Evans R, Goldsmith CH, Assendelft WJJ, Bouter LM. Non invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004 issue 3.
- Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, Boline P, Goldsmith C, Anderson AV The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for the prophylaxis of migraine headache. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 21(8) October 1998, pp511-9.
- Norton PJ, Asmundson, GJG Anxiety sensitivity, fear and avoidance behaviour in headache pain. Pain, Volume 111(1) September 2004, pp218-223.
- Steiner TJ, MacGregor EA, Davies, PTG Guidelines for all healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and managment of migraine, tension-type, cluster and medication-overuse headache. British Assocation for the Study of Headache (BASH), 2007.
- Vernon H Spinal manipulation in the management of tension-type migraine and cervicogenic headaches: the state of the evidence. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, 9(1) 2002, pp14-20.
- Wight S, Osborne N, Breen, AC Incidence of ponticulus posterior of the atlas in migraine and cervicogenic headache. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 22(1) January 1999, pp15-20.