Migraine Relief: The Pros and Cons of Chiropractic Therapy

Most people associate chiropractic therapy with conditions specifically related to the spine, but the practice can also be applied to individuals suffering from migraines. That being said, it begs the question — how is the spine related to migraine pain?

A study  of 113 patients conducted in 2010 found that pain in the cervical spine (neck) accompanied migraine attacks more than nausea. In another, more informal survey, 75 percent of those polled reported having neck pain with their migraine attacks. The pain is described as tightness or stiffness and in over half of the migraineurs, the pain preceded the headache. Chiropractic therapy involves stretching and manipulating the spinal cord (including the cervical region) to promote healthy alignment and alleviate muscle strain and tension. One theory is that this stress relief directly impacts the experience of migraine pain. 

As with all forms of treatment for migraine relief, there is a plus side and a negative side. Here’s the scoop on chiropractic treatment for migraines: 

Pros of Chiropractic Therapy for Migraine Relief

Reduction in Pain & Frequency

A 1999 study suggests that because chiropractic therapy alleviates physical stress, it provides migraine relief to those with stress-induced attacks. 127 individuals who suffer from regular headaches were tested. 50 percent noted a significant reduction in severity while 22 percent reported more than a 90 percent reduction in frequency. 

You may also be interested in this article: Migraine Treatment: Craniosacral Therapy for Migraines

Success as a Preventative 

A review of over 22 studies involving more than 2,600 patients found that chiropractic therapy may be a beneficial preventative treatment for those suffering from migraines and other forms of painful headaches; deterring the onset of symptoms before migraines have a chance to progress. 

Drug Free

A migraineurs world is often overrun by over-the-counter, preventative, abortive and pain killing medications, not to mention injections and supplements. Chiropractic therapy gives these individuals a break from drug use for migraine relief. Instead, pain relief is administered through physical stretching and manipulation of the spine to release tension.

Cons of Chiropractic Therapy for Migraine Relief


In order for chiropractic therapy to be effective, patients must routinely receive adjustments or manipulations. Monthly visits can cost up to and exceeding $100 per session depending on insurance coverage. Additionally, start-up is expensive, as your initial consultation will likely involve x-rays to understand what misalignments may be putting extra stress on your body.

Side Effects

Some sufferers report temporary headaches following a session. Others complain of tiredness. More serious side effects include:

  • Increased pain
  • Discomfort where manipulation was applied
  • Stiffness


In rare cases, chiropractic therapy has been known to cause serious harm to blood vessels. This includes bleeding between the skull and brain, damaging arteries or injuring components of the spinal cord. Serious warning signs after chiropractic therapy for migraine relief include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness

If you have osteoporosis or nerve damage, including numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs, do not attempt chiropractic therapy for migraine relief. Because chiropractic therapy may also negatively interact with certain medications and supplements, it is imperative migraineurs consult with their treating physician prior to seeking this form of treatment, as it may not be compatible with their current regimen. 

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