© 2023 All rights reserved
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 and headaches that originate in the neck. Pain medications have limited effects on these types of headaches, so attention has turned to the use of non-drug options.
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.
Pain Management Techniques
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
- 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
- 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.
Acupuncture involves injecting very thin needles into certain parts of your skin to stimulate relief from a wide variety of health conditions.
A 2020 randomized controlled study Trusted Source 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.
A 2016 review of 22 studies Trusted Source 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:
- 5 days with usual care
- 4 days with fake acupuncture or prophylactic medications
- 3 1/2 days with real acupuncture
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 Trusted Source , 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.
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:
- deep breathing exercises
- mental imagery
- music therapy or listening to relaxing music
- counseling or therapy
- progressive muscle relaxation
- improving time management
- scheduling more time for relaxing activities
Book a massage
Massage 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.
Sign up for yoga
Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being. A 2015 study Trusted Source 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.
Add magnesium to your diet
A 2021 study Trusted Source, 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:
- sesame seeds
- sunflower seeds
- Brazil nuts
- peanut butter
Try acupressure for
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 Trusted Source found evidence that acupuncture may help manage migraine-related nausea during treatment, but that it doesn’t improve pain or quality of life.
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.
Try to get a good night’s sleep
The connection between sleep and migraine still isn’t entirely clear. Research from 2016 Trusted Source has found a correlation between high migraine frequency and poor sleep quality. This association is true in people with migraine 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.