Migraine Relief: The Chiropractic Connection

Over the years we have meet many people who suffer debilitating effects from migraine headaches. These symptoms can range from throbbing in one particular area varying in intensity and nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Some people may also experience

pain in the face or neck, this can be dull or severe, frequent and throbbing.  Sometimes even the whole body is effected to include dizziness, light headedness and general malaise. Some folks experience sensitivity to light, or nausea and or vomiting (but how does a headache effect my gastrointenstinal system?), not to mention you can be pretty irritable and your quality of life goes down the tubes, especially if you experience these regularly. 

Yesterday I adjusted a women for her first time.  She had just become a new mum one month ago and despite being 28 years old, she had been experience migraines since she was just 10 years old!  The only help she had received over that time was from a physio who said it “may be something to do with your neck”. Her sister and brother in law whom I’ve looked after for some time were super concerned as she had been so out of it she had to sleep it off and could not look after her gorgeous new baby during the day.  When I meet her this week she said “I want my life back”. 

Whilst I personally have never experienced such a debilitating chronic condition to know what that is like, I have been a parent for some time and know you can’t give from an empty cup. Although I can’t know exactly how her condition will play out, here is what I do know about migraines and the relationship of the spine and nervous system along with my 25 years of seeing this in practice. 

Her examination revealed multiple areas of chronic vertebral subluxation and associated postural changes to the natural curvature of the spine. She showed a several of the natural curve in the neck called lordosis, and she also showed an increase in her thoracic kyphosis (more pronounced rounding of the shoulders). Her spinal x-rays showed degenerative changes to the joints in her spine, not unlike you might see in someone 20+ years.  Her neck and lower back range of motion moved less than half of what it should, yet she had no neck or back pain complaints!  This wonderful body of ours which is designed to self heal and self regulate and be healthy had steadily declined since childhood with chronic subluxations. If only a chiropractor had met her when she was at primary school or intermediate – how differently would things have played out? We will never know. 

What we do know is these migraines are multi factorial in their origin.  Some people we have met had them start in their early teens with the onset of their menstrual cycle then disappear with the onset of menopause. Others have found they are linked to their gut and certain foods they eat. For others it is certain stimuli in their environments like petrol fumes or perfumes and odours. What a lot of people don’t realise is there is often a relationship to 

migraines and how chiropractic care can help.

Research into Migraines and Chiropractic care

Evidence from systematic reviews is generally favourable for chiropractic care and people suffering from migraines. One of the most well known studies that has investigated this link came out of Australia and was published in JMPT in 2001.  Dr Peter Tuchin, the first author on this study looked at 127 people suffering from migraines. They received two months of chiropractic care. 

  • 22% of sufferers had a 90% reduction in frequency of migraines
  • And another 49% reported significant improvement in their migraine frequency

We have found a few common areas are highly linked and many of our patients over the past 20 years at Mt Eden Chiropractic have benefited in a reduction in migraine symptoms as a result of having chiropractic adjustments.

These areas include sacroiliac joints, temporomandibular joints, cranial bones/sutures and the upper cervical spine.  We analyse all of these structures to ensure they are functioning optimally to give your body the best the chance of healing and turning down the noise to and from your brain. Perhaps the best way to explain this is by a term know as sensorimotor integration.

After many years of research, it is known that spinal function impacts and changes how your spine and skull send proprioceptive information to your brain. Proprioception means your brain’s awareness of the position of your body, so your brain’s ability to know where all the parts of your body are in space. The proprioceptive information that comes from the muscles closest to your spine and skull help your brain know what is going on in your spine, which represents the core of your body. For your brain to accurately move your arms and legs your brain needs to know exactly what is happening in your spine. This ability to move accurately based on sensing what is going on your body is a process known as sensorimotor integration. 

Sensorimotor integration basically means your brain’s ability to take all the information it receives from your body and environment, put it all together to make sense of it, and then then create just the right sort of movements in response to that sensory information. 

Who do you know who is experiencing Migraines? Get them along for a Chiropractic examination today with one of our experienced team to ensure they can have their best chance at helping them “get their life back”.

Dr Simon Kelly (Chiropractor)

Mt Eden Chiropractic

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