Finding Pain Relief
In the modern world, a much more holistic approach is being taken to health, with practitioners and patients alike realizing that your health is impacted by many lifestyle factors and alternative medicines can be used alongside acute treatment to improve results.
This is particularly true in the case of migraines, which cause incredible pain and discomfort to sufferers. But before we dive into how people with migraines are choosing to treat them, let’s explore what exactly is a migraine and how they’ve been treated traditionally.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a throbbing or pulsing headache that can cause extreme pain for sufferers. Migraines usually take place on one side of the head and can cause other side effects such as light sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. Migraines are challenging and even debilitating to live with.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut cause for migraines, although they can be genetic, and age, sex and hormonal changes can all play a part. Women are three times more likely than men to have migraines, for example.
Traditionally, those who suffer from migraines have sought to treat migraine pain with painkillers and even some special prescription medicines. The problem with treating the pain this way is the risk of medication-overuse headaches, which seem to be at the highest risk with aspirin and caffeine combination.
There is, however, a new technique that some migraine sufferers are turning to to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by migraines. While the research is still slim, some evidence shows that chiropractors can treat migraine headaches.
A chiropractor provides alternative, complementary medicine, which treats issues with muscles, nerves, bones, ligaments and tendons.
How Do Chiropractors Treat Migraines?
It’s worth pointing out that there’s no ‘cure’ or easy fix for migraines. Sufferers simply have to take measures to ease the symptoms when migraines occur or try ways to reduce the frequency with which migraines appear.
For a more holistic approach to migraines, some sufferers see a chiropractor. While a chiropractor might not seem like the obvious answer to migraine headaches, bear in mind that 75% of people with migraines also suffer from neck pain. After all, the body is much better connected than you’d think!
To treat migraine headaches, chiropractors focus on spinal adjustments and manipulation to improve spinal function, reduce muscle tension and reduce stress. Treatment includes soft tissue therapies, such as massages, myofascial release massages that target membranes that support muscles and trigger point therapies, which aim to release tension from muscles.
Chiropractors typically focus on the areas around your head and neck to ensure migraines aren’t being worsened by tension held in the surrounding muscles.
As well as these soft tissue treatments, chiropractors aim to take a holistic approach, which includes giving out lifestyle advice. Chiropractors might suggest that patients with migraines make dietary changes, avoid heavy exercise, practice good posture (especially at work) and focus on avoiding clenching their jaws.
Dehydration is another common headache trigger - both for migraines and regular headaches - so a chiropractor might provide patients with hydration advice. Overall, the chiropractor aims to reduce stress, minimize pain and improve musculoskeletal health, which can help treat migraine headaches.
Does Using a Chiropractor Help Migraine Headaches?
Currently, the evidence for the effectiveness of a chiropractor is limited. According to research from 2011, however, there might be benefits to using this type of treatment to reduce the pain associated with migraines.
Migraines don’t happen in exception to all other parts of the body, so a migraine can often cause associated pains such as neck pain, stiffness, or even shoulder pain. Chiropractors can help to treat these side effects.
In general, chiropractic methods are considered to be safe, so there’s no high risk associated with trying this alternative therapy. As a result, if you suffer from regular migraines and are looking for a treatment to complement your medication, chiropractic methods are worth looking into.
Other Methods of Treating Migraines
Aside from working with a chiropractor, there are plenty of recommended treatments for migraines.
When a migraine strikes, sufferers can take over-the-counter painkillers to treat it. Sitting in a darkened room and keeping light and sound to a minimum can help, too.
In terms of prescription medicine, most migraine sufferers will be recommended Triptans if their migraine stints are regular and painful enough. Sumatriptan (brands Imitrex and Tosymra) and rizatriptan (Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT) block pain pathways in the brain, reducing the symptoms associated with a migraine. They’re typically taken as pills, shots, or nasal sprays, but they’re not recommended for those at risk of a stroke or heart attack.
If you struggle with migraines and you’re exploring treatments to reduce pain, consider working with a chiropractor. They can help relieve the strain on your head, neck and shoulders.