Migraines & Headaches

If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from headaches —research shows that spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) – a centerpiece of chiropractic care – may be an effective treatment option for cervicogenic headaches, which are tension headaches that originate in the neck. Pain medication has limited effects on these types of headaches, so attention has turned to non-drug alternatives.

A scientific review published in 2020, determined that chiropractic care could be considered an effective treatment for tension headaches because it provides “superior, small, short-term effects for pain intensity, frequency, and disability when compared with other manual therapies.”

What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

Your doctor of chiropractic may take one or more approaches to alleviate pain from a primary headache:

  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B-complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises, and relaxation techniques. This advice should help relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.


Ask Your Chiropractor to See if the Following Pain Management Techniques Are Beneficial for You

Try to get a good night’s sleep

The connection between sleep and migraine still isn’t entirely clear. Research from 2016 has found a correlation between high migraine frequency and poor sleep quality. This connection holds true for individuals experiencing migraines both with and without aura.

Going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding caffeine late in the day, and avoiding stimulating activities before bed are some of the ways you can improve your sleep.

(Source: Healthline)

Book a massage

Massages may reduce migraine frequency. Migraine is associated with low serotonin in the brain, and massage has been shown to increase serotonin. There’s limited evidence to support the use of massage for migraine relief, but it’s generally safe and has a low risk of side effects.

(Source: Healthline)

Chiropractic offices often offer massage services; consult your chiropractor to see what services they offer to book a massage.

Try acupressure for
migraine-related nausea

Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure with the fingers and hands to specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. A 2017 study found evidence that acupuncture may help manage migraine-related nausea during treatment, but that it doesn’t improve pain or quality of life.

(Source: Healthline)

Avoid certain foods

Diet plays a vital role in preventing migraine attacks. Many foods and beverages may be migraine triggers, such as:

  • Foods with nitrates, including hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and sausage.
  • Chocolate.
  • Cheese that contains the naturally occurring compound tyramine, such as blue, feta, cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss.
  • Alcohol, especially red wine.
  • Foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.
  • Foods that are very cold, such as ice cream or iced drinks.
  • Processed foods.
  • Pickled foods.
  • Beans.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Cultured dairy products, such as buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt.

A small amount of caffeine may ease migraine pain in some people. Caffeine is also in some migraine medications. But too much caffeine may cause a migraine attack. It may also lead to a severe caffeine withdrawal headache.

(Source: Healthline)

Try acupuncture

Acupuncture involves injecting very thin needles into certain parts of your skin to stimulate relief from a wide variety of health conditions.

2020 randomized controlled study found that 20 sessions of manual acupuncture along with usual care was more effective at preventing migraine in people with a history of episodic migraine without aura than sham acupuncture along with usual care. Sham acupuncture is a treatment where the needles are not inserted as deeply.

2016 review of 22 studies also found moderate evidence that acupuncture may reduce headache symptoms. In the results summary, the authors explain that if people had 6 days of migraine per month before treatment, it would be expected that they would have:

(Source: Healthline)

Sign up for yoga

Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being. A 2015 study found yoga may relieve the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraine attacks. It’s thought to improve anxiety, release tension in migraine-trigger areas, and improve vascular health.

The researchers concluded that yoga could be beneficial as a complementary therapy for treating migraine.

(Source: Healthline)

Add magnesium to your diet

Magnesium deficiency is linked to headaches and migraine. Magnesium oxide supplementation may help prevent migraine with aura. It may also prevent menstrual migraine (hormone headaches).

2021 study found that 500 milligrams of magnesium oxide taken twice a day for 8 weeks was as effective as the medication valproate sodium for preventing migraine without significant side effects.

You can get magnesium from foods that include:

  • almonds
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • peanut butter
  • oatmeal
  • eggs
  • milk

(Source: Healthline)

Staying hydrated

According to the American Migraine Foundation, about a third of people with migraine report dehydration as a migraine trigger.

To prevent dehydration, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when exercising. On hot days, you may need to drink more water than usual.

(Source: Healthline)

Apply stress management techniques

According to the American Headache Society, more than 80 percent of people with migraine report stress being a migraine trigger. Learning how to better manage your stress may help you decrease migraine frequency.

Some commonly used stress management techniques include:

(Source: Healthline)

Try biofeedback

Biofeedback is a relaxation method. It teaches you to control autonomic reactions to stress. During this therapy, electrodes are applied to your skin to monitor physiologic processes that change with stress, such as your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.

During a biofeedback session, you work with a therapist to manage stress using changes in your physiologic processes as feedback.

According to a 2019 study, there’s good evidence to support the use of mind-body interventions such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy for treating migraine. These therapies are effectively free of side effects and may make a good alternative for medication for some people.

(Source: Healthline)

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Research Shows Healing Power of Chiropractic