You don't need me to describe what a migraine headache feels like.
You probably already know.
Migraines are a monster form of headache that often comes with other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise, inability to concentrate. Because of these other symptoms, and because migraines tend to begin in the brain, migraines are often called a neurological syndrome. Migraines can be triggered by any number of neurological causes, such as sensory input (smelling a strong cologne, seeing flashing lights), stress, chemicals (such as caffeine or alcohol), disrupted sleep patterns, and more.
So if migraines are essentially a problem with the nervous system, and if chiropractic is a health care field that treats the nervous system, is it possible that chiropractic care can help migraines?
Can Chiropractic Help Migraines?
What does the research literature say about chiropractic care for migraines? Here's a quotation from "Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review", published in The Journal of Headache and Pain in 2011:
"Patients not responding or tolerating prophylactic medication [for migraine headaches] or who wish to avoid medication for other reasons, can be referred to massage therapy, physical therapy or chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy, as these treatments are safe with a few adverse reactions. Current RCTs [Randomized Clinical Trials] suggest that massage therapy, physiotherapy, relaxation and chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy might be equally efficient as propranolol and topiramate in the prophylactic management of migraine."
Here's an article called "Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review" from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics in 2001:
SMT [Spinal manipulative therapy, another term for the chiropractic adjustment] appears to have a better effect than massage for cervicogenic headache. It also appears that SMT has an effect comparable to commonly used first-line prophylactic prescription medications for tension-type headache and migraine headache.
Evidence suggests that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.
- Spinal manipulation is recommended for the management of patients with episodic or chronic migraine with or without aura. This recommendation is based on studies that used a treatment frequency 1 to 2 times per week for 8 weeks (evidence level, moderate).
- Weekly massage therapy is recommended for reducing episodic migraine frequency and for improving affective symptoms potentially linked to headache pain (evidence level, moderate).
- Multimodal multidisciplinary care (exercise, relaxation, stress and nutritional counseling, massage therapy) is recommended for the management of patients with episodic or chronic migraine. Refer as appropriate (evidence level, moderate).