Physical or emotional stress is a commonly accepted contributor to the onset of migraine episodes. While many medications aim to resolve stress-related migraines, recent studies suggest that chiropractic therapy might also be effective at relieving pain and preventing future attacks.
It seems an odd treatment path to take, considering that a chiropractor is most notably associated with spinal manipulation whereas, migraine symptoms involve throbbing pain in the head but clinical trials prove that for some, chiropractic therapy can reduce migraine frequency and intensity. Let’s review some of the significant findings to determine if chiropractic therapy might be a good fit for you.
What is Chiropractic Therapy and How Does it Work?
The practice of chiropractic therapy is based on the idea that bodily afflictions like migraines could be due to misalignments in the vertebral column that create stress, tension and nerve disturbances. Contrary to what many assume, a chiropractor’s expertise goes beyond just that of the spinal region. They have extensive knowledge of the entire musculoskeletal system and nervous system and can identify how spinal column discrepancies can influence other parts of the body. Once misalignments are recognized, a properly trained and qualified chiropractor uses a ‘hands on’ approach to correct problem areas and alleviate stress and tension.
Countless studies that have been conducted to measure the effects of chiropractic therapy on migraine symptoms. Here are just a few:
Dr. Peter Tuchin, a chiropractor with over 25 years of experience conducted a study for his thesis at Macquarie University. 123 migraine sufferers that had been conflicted with episodes for an average of 18 years were divided into two groups; one received chiropractic therapy and the other did not. Of the patients that received chiropractic therapy:
- 22% experienced more than a 60% reduction of their symptoms.
- 50% reported notable improvements including decreased duration, frequency and medication usage.
A recent clinical study funded by the Australian Government also turned out some interesting results. 127 patients who experience at least one migraine per month were the subjects of this study. Once again, the participants were divided into two groups, one receiving chiropractic therapy and the other receiving none. Of the patients that received therapy:
- 1 out of every 5 patients experienced 90% reduction in migraine frequency, severity, duration and medication use.
- 50% reported substantial improvements in pain severity.
In yet another study, participants were divided into three groups. Group ‘A’ received chiropractic therapy, group ‘B’ received the medication Elavil and group ‘C’ received a combination of both chiropractic therapy and Elavil. The results concluded that group A and B had equally comparable influences on migraine pain while in group C, a combination of the two treatments had no greater effect.
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Chiropractic therapy is a generally safe method for treatment. However, some side effects may be experienced, including:
- Tenderness or physical discomfort in targeted areas
- Temporary headache
- Increased pain
In rare instances, patients have been know to develop blood vessel traumas like bleeding between the brain and skull or artery damage. Harm to the spinal cord is also a risk.
Are You a Candidate for Chiropractic Therapy?
Chiropractic care can negatively interact with some medications, so be sure to disclose all medications before undergoing treatment. Chiropractic therapy is not a good choice for individuals with:
- Nerve damage
- Loss of strength in the extremities
Discuss chiropractic therapy with your doctor or migraine specialist before making any decisions. They will be able to closely assess your medical history to determine if chiropractic therapy is a safe alternative for you. If you do decide to move forward with this treatment, check the credentials of your chiropractor. Be sure that you are receiving care from a licensed professional with experience and proven success. It’s important to discuss your condition with the chiropractor so that treatment can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Your chiropractor may also give advice on lifestyle and diet changes that could positively influence your migraine symptoms.
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