How Chiropractor Treatment can Help Headaches & Migraines
You certainly are not alone! Fifty-nine percent of Canadian adults report suffering from some form of headache. Headaches can be debilitating, but most often feel like unpleasant discomfort, pain or pressure that can be addressed by manual therapies, relaxation and rest, hydration and even short-term use of pain medication.
Most Canadians will suffer from at least one headache in their lifetime. Fifty-nine percent of Canadian adults report suffering from some form of headache.1 Headaches can be debilitating, but most often feel like unpleasant discomfort, pain or pressure.
The reason for the headache can differ from one individual to another. Many people seek chiropractic care for headaches and migraines. Here are some things you need to know if you are thinking of seeing a chiropractor for headaches or migraines:
Cervicogenic headaches that stems from the neck or cervical spine structures. Pain can be triggered or worsened by neck movement. With cervicogenic headaches, pain is usually on one side of the head. The pain can start at the base of the skull and spread to the front of the head.
The cause of migraines is still unknown, but there seems to be a relationship between individual genetics and the environment. Migraines are commonly associated with triggers. These can include hormonal changes, food and additives, stress, sleep, physical and sensory factors, changes in the environment and certain medications. Migraines feel like intense throbbing or pulsing sensation on one or both sides of the head frequently accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting. Migraine can be preceded by an “aura” that can present as a flash of light, blind spots or tingling.
Should I see a chiropractor for headaches?
Evidence has demonstrated that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulative therapy, can be an effective treatment for cervicogenic and tension-type headaches. More so, studies have demonstrated that seeing a chiropractor for migraines can also decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines.
When you see a chiropractor for headaches, they will perform a comprehensive history and examination to determine whether the symptoms are coming from joint dysfunction of the spine or other surrounding structures like muscles. The chiropractor will also rule-out other possible causes and refer to appropriate medical professionals when needed for additional testing or care.
Depending on the findings of the history and patient examination, the chiropractor may recommend patient reassurance, manual therapies, modalities and lifestyle recommendations including rehabilitation. However, the plan of management will be individualized to the patient’s needs and examination findings. The treatment options may include:
- Patient education and reassurance
- Manipulation and mobilization
- Soft tissue therapy
- Rehabilitation and exercises
- Ergonomic and lifestyle changes
- Referral and co-management
Chiropractors are also able to provide lifestyle counselling about nutrition, fitness and ergonomics among others that may be useful in managing or preventing a variety of health conditions.
News Medical Life Sciences. Proof that chiropractic treatment helps migraine sufferers. May 22, 2005. https://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/05/22/10268.aspx. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Biondi, DM. Cervicogenic Headache: A Review of Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies. JAOA. 2005: 105; 16S-22S. https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2093083. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Pamela Ramage-Morin and Heather Gilmour, “Prevalence of Migraine in the Canadian Household Population,” Statistics Canada, Health Reports, Volume 25, no. 6. June 2014.