Headaches and migraines

Chiropractic: a successful treatment


There are several types of headaches. Generally, multiple problems are behind the emergence of symptoms. Migraines should be differentiated from other types of headaches.

What is a migraine?

A migraine is a type of headache that occurs as an attack. This attack can last between 4 hours to several days (72 hours). Approximately one out of five people suffering from migraines also present “auras”.

Migraine auras are disorders that appear before, and sometimes during the migraine attack (read more in the paragraph on auras below).

This pain always occurs on one side of the skull, in general behind the eye, in the temple and can even radiate up to the back of the skull.  The pain usually throbbing and is often described as hammer hits.

Sometimes, the pain can radiate to the neck. These pains are often a handicap to daily activities.

We know very little about what creates these symptoms. The current hypothesis is that it’s a neurovascular disease with a genetic aspect. Feminine hormones are sometimes described as aggravating factors.

Migraine auras: the vast majority of auras are visual (80 to 90%). The patient is very sensitive to light (photophobia), sees black, shiny or geometrical spots or zones in the visual field.

The patient can also present neurological symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, phonophobia (sensitivity or difficulty supporting sound), tingling or numbness, irritability, arterial tension drops, fatigue, loss of appetite, perspiration, yawning, urges to urinate, difficulty to concentrate or to find words, and so on.

Can chiropractic cure migraines?

Chiropractors have observed that a vast majority of patients under chiropractic care experience a decrease in the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Sometimes, migraines are completely cured. However, this result cannot be guaranteed for everyone.
Regarding migraines with auras, chiropractors also observed a decrease and even the disappearance of one or several of the auras. The joint treatment of conventional medicine and chiropractic generally offers very good results in the case of migraines.

In a nutshell, even though results may vary, chiropractic care is an effective treatment for migraines. It usually relieves a lot of the negative impacts that migraines have on the patient’s life. Under chiropractic care, it is pretty rare that the migraine remains as much of a handicap as before.

Headaches: there are several types of headaches. We differentiate headaches from migraines because their origin and symptoms are very different.

Drug-overuse headaches:

Whether it is from medication or illegal drugs, when the amount of chemicals taken by the patient’s body is too much, headaches may occur. Those headaches may appear during the drug intake or after the body has drained the drug out.
It is crucial to stick to your doctor’s maximum drug intake recommendations to limit the risk of overdose and drug-overuse induced headaches.

Chiropractic accompanies the patient through dispensing lifestyle advice and aiding the body in its recovery process. However, medical follow-up is mandatory when it comes to headaches which occur from drug-overuse.

Tension headaches:

These headaches are triggered from the joint effect of several factors including muscular, cervical, stress and psychosomatic factors. They usually manifest as a background pain that increases with stress, fatigue, frustration, poor hydration, and chronic bad posture. The pain can be felt all over the skull, on one side, or can even more localized (occiput, skull base, temple, forehead).

The pain isn’t throbbing as opposed to migraines. In order to cure this kind of headaches, chiropractic care has to go in-hand with lifestyle changes. Following chiropractors’ advice will help you improve the effectiveness of each session, extend their effects and prevent relapses.

Cervicogenic headache:

This is a type of headache that is caused by one or several cervical vertebrae disorders. It’s hard to differentiate from tension headaches. However, when the headache occurs simultaneously with a blockage sensation in the cervical spine, it almost always is a cervicogenic headache. This headache is cured successfully through chiropractic.

Occipital neuralgia (or C2 neuralgia):

It is usually described as an electric shock that can occur frequently. Some patients report pain lasting hours or even days. The sensitivity of the zone of referred pain can be altered either directly after the onset of the pain or permanently. The pain follows a precise path rising from the base of the skull to behind the eye. It’s a unilateral pain that, if it remains untreated, can aggravate in its frequency and duration along with causing nerve wear. The pain comes from the greater or lesser occipital nerve wear from impingement, trauma, muscle tension or any other cause. Chiropractic is a very efficient treatment plan for this form of headache.

Can migraines be treated with chiropractic?

We noticed that patients following chiropractic care generally experience less intense and more spaced out attacks than before treatment. Migraines may even go away completely, but we can’t guarantee this for everyone. For migraines with aura, there is also a decrease or even disappearance of one or more of the auras present. Joint treatment with conventional medicine and chiropractic generally provides excellent results on migraines. In short, chiropractic can treat migraines, with varying results, but generally helping to greatly relieve the impact they can have on the patient’s life. It is quite rare for migraines to remain disabling after regular chiropractic care.

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