Migraine and headache treatment in our office is begun like every other condition, with a consultation. It’s during the consultation that we’re listening for signs that your problem can be helped with chiropractic care. Depending on how you describe your condition, we’ll ask follow up questions that will direct us as to whether you should be treated in our office or if we should refer you to another type of healthcare provider.
In some cases, the migraine or headache is being caused by environmental or systemic factors that may not be connected to the biomechanical factors of the spine. Diet, toxins in the air, and stress can be big contributing factors to frequent pain in the head. High blood pressure or a recent change in medications may also play a part.
Depending on the part of the head having the pain, the problem may also be related to allergies or a sinus condition.
If we determine that the headaches are coming from the spine, the specific area we will focus on will be the neck. Headaches caused by the neck are referred to as being cervicogenic. The cervicogenic headaches can be caused by any of the cervical (neck) vertebrae being out of alignment.
With migraines, the vertebrae being affected are typically in the upper neck. The way the occiput (skull) sits on the first vertebra, the first vertebra itself (atlas), or the second vertebra in the neck (axis) are usually the vertebra involved. If we find misalignments in these areas, this will be the vertebrae that we will be adjusting to help alleviate the recurring headaches.
During treatment, we will adjust these areas and then likely add additional therapies such as electrical stimulation or ice to calm inflammation. If we don’t do this additional step, occasionally just touching these vertebrae can increase inflammation and trigger a headache. We’ve found by calming these tissues down following the adjustment, we can avoid any unpleasant symptoms post-treatment.
The vertebrae will be adjusted multiple times per week for several weeks, with a re-examination occurring after ten visits. Progress, at first, will not mean that all headaches are gone. Instead, we will look for a decrease in frequency, intensity, or duration (how long the headache lasts).
Any of these elements will be an improvement, but the ultimate goal when accepting a headache patient for care will be that all symptoms are removed. Most migraine sufferers are thrilled to have the symptoms less or just show up less often. We will work until all headache symptoms are gone as much as possible.