Much more than a “severe headache,” migraine is a chronic neurological disease that affects about 1 billion people across the globe, including over 38 million men, women, and children in the United States.
If you deal with these chronic, debilitating headaches, you know the toll it can take on your life — it can affect your ability to go to work or school, take care of your family, or engage in social activities. And since migraine isn’t curable, proper management is key to minimizing headache episodes and staying well.
Many people who seek migraine relief at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center prefer to avoid taking daily medication, especially when integrative chiropractic care can help.
Read on as our skilled chiropractic team discusses migraine stages and triggers and explores three chiropractic therapies that can help you significantly reduce the frequency and severity of these chronic headaches — naturally.
There are over 150 different types of headaches, all of which are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. A migraine is a primary headache, meaning it’s not a symptom of an underlying condition like a brain tumor.
Although there are several types of migraine headaches, most are characterized by a severe pulsing sensation on one side of the head. The typical migraine progresses through four stages:
Before a migraine strikes, you may experience subtle body cues that signal an impending attack, such as moodiness or neck stiffness. Known as prodrome, this “pre-headache” stage can last for hours or days.
This stage, which can last for 5 minutes or up to an hour, may occur before or during a migraine attack. Many people with migraine don’t experience this stage. Still, those who do may have visual disturbances, such as seeing flashes of light, pins and needles sensation in a limb, facial weakness, and other symptoms.
This stage, the migraine headache itself, can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, causing intense, throbbing, or drilling pain on one or both sides of your head. A migraine attack can also trigger blurred vision, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea or vomiting.
Once the migraine attack has subsided, the postdrome stage can linger for a day or two. This phase, known as a “migraine hangover,” affects up to 4 in 5 migraine sufferers and may cause weakness, moodiness, dizziness, or confusion.
Migraine is a complex neurological disorder that researchers are still working to understand. What they do know, however, is that it can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:
For some people, sensory stimuli like bright lights or strong scents can trigger a migraine; for others, the problem may be linked to certain food chemicals, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). Alcohol, particularly red wine, is another common migraine trigger.
Chiropractic care takes a holistic, non-pharmaceutical approach to migraine pain that aims to help improve the abnormal nerve signals and blood flow fluctuations that researchers believe contribute to migraine occurrence and severity.
Three critical chiropractic interventions that can actively help improve migraine management and prevention are:
If you have any misalignments in your cervical spine (neck) that could be causing nerve stress and contributing to your migraine headaches, gentle, hands-on spinal manipulation can help.
By making a series of targeted neck adjustments, this basic chiropractic technique can restore proper alignment, ease localized nerve stress, improve nerve signaling and blood flow through your central nervous system, and reduce migraine frequency and severity. Having regular spinal manipulation treatments helps you “hold your adjustment” and prevent migraine recurrence.
Just as a chiropractic adjustment manipulates your spine to restore proper alignment and ease nerve stress, massage is a hands-on therapy designed to alleviate trigger point pain and ease tension in your soft tissues, including your muscles and the myofascial tissues that cover them.
We can often reduce the frequency and severity of chronic migraine or headache pain with neuromuscular massage. Also known as trigger point therapy, this soft tissue manipulation technique focuses on easing tense trigger points along the upper back, shoulders, neck, and head to help relax muscles, improve blood flow, and release pressure from any compressed nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain.
Active and passive exercises help support and advance the work of spinal manipulation and massage therapy. Passive exercise, also called joint mobilization, is a therapy in which we move your joints — meaning they are passively moved — to improve joint mobility and ease the pain. To treat migraine, joint mobilization therapy targets the cervical spine.
Active exercise therapy for migraine usually means practicing deep neck flexion movements. These exercises, such as performing a series of chin tucks, involve moving your muscles and joints actively and precisely under our guidance and care.
If you like the idea of being able to manage your migraine problem without medication, we can help. In addition to the therapies outlined here, chiropractic care incorporates physical therapy, relaxation techniques, migraine trigger management, and dietary counseling to help reduce migraine pain, frequency, duration, and disability.
To find out how chiropractic care can ease your migraines, call or click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Lincoln German or Dr. Mikaela Foley at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia, today.