Drug-Free Migraine Relief with Chiropractic Treatment in Red Bank New Jersey

Migraine is a neurological syndrome with a plethora of debilitating symptoms, including severe headaches, nausea, and altered bodily perceptions. Typically, a migraine headache lasts anywhere from four to 72 hours, and consists of four stages.

Stages of Migraine

• Prodrome: Prodromal symptoms occur in 40-60% of migraineurs (migraine sufferers); this phase consists of altered mood, irritability, depression (or euphoria), sleepiness, food cravings, stiff muscles, and diarrhea (or constipation).

• Aura: Twenty to 30% of migraineurs suffer from migraine with aura, a focal neurological phenomenon that can precede or accompany an attack. Visual aura is the most common neurological symptom; this involves a visual disturbance consisting of flashes of white, black, or multicolored lights. Some patients experience blurred or cloudy vision. Other symptoms include auditory or olfactory hallucinations, temporary dysphasia, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the face and extremities, and sensitivity to touch.

• Pain: Pain can be moderate to severe and usually occurs unilaterally (on one side of the head; hence the etymology of the term “migraine,” which derives from the Greek “hemicrania,” or “half” and “skull”). Other common symptoms during this phase are sensitivity to light, sound, noise, motion, and smells, as well as nausea and vomiting.

• Postdrome: After the pain has subsided, some patients feel tired, depressed, and have additional head pain and gastrointestinal symptoms. Others may experience euphoria and increased energy.

The pain and extreme neurological disruption of a migraine attack causes countless days of missed work, school, and enjoyment. Even worse, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that women who have migraines accompanied by visual symptoms have a greater risk of stroke compared to women who do not have migraines.

Medical Intervention for Migraine

While the medical community has a number of theories as to the origin of migraine (the most common hypothesis is a disorder of the serotonergic control system), the cause is still unknown. This is clearly indicated in the treatment of the disorder, which consists of a scattered assortment of drugs, the majority of which were not expressly designed to treat migraine in the first place.

Traditionally, neurologists prescribe two types of medications for migraine: preventive and pain relieving. It is safe to assume that many medical preventive options are ineffective, as pain relieving drugs are still a necessity for many migraineurs.

Preventive medications include cardiovascular drugs (beta blockers most commonly used for high blood pressure), antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, antihistamines, and—in some extreme cases—botulinum toxin type A (Botox).

Pain medications for migraine include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), triptans, anti-nausea drugs, butalbital combinations (a sedative combined with aspirin, acetaminophen, or caffeine), and opiates. Of these, at least three options (NSAIDs, opiates, and butalbital) may cause rebound headaches, a phenomenon in which the drug that brings relief may actually cause another headache. NSAIDs, if taken for too long and in high enough doses, may cause ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding. Opiates are known for having addictive properties.

Chiropractic Treatment of Migraine Headaches at our Monmouth County NJ Rehabilitation Facility

Often a misalignment of the neck—a subluxation—can irritate the nerves that travel the length of the spine to and from the brain. This misalignment causes the migraine sufferer to be more prone to chemical imbalances in the brain. Realigning the vertebrae can relieve the pressure against inflamed nerves and alleviate the headaches.

Our doctors at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation have found a very interesting correlation between one specific type of spinal misalignment in the neck and migraine headaches. This misalignment is called a cervical kyphosis (commonly known as a reverse curvature of the neck).

The normal position of the neck is designed to be straight from the front. From the side, the neck was designed to have a C-shaped curve. This is also known as a lordosis. This C-shape curve is actually an arc or part of a circle. In nature, structures like this are strong and able to withstand considerable loading. In the case of the neck, this C-shape lordosis allows the neck to both protect the nerves and hold up the head.

A reversed curvature in the neck can occur in one of two ways. The first is from trauma. The other way the neck can become reversed is from abnormal posture over time. In both cases, the end result is the same. A considerable amount of stress is placed upon the spinal nerves, which become irritated. These irritated nerves disrupt blood flow along the spinal cord and into the brain which can cause the migraine headache.

Researchers at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota recently compared chiropractic care with drug therapies for migraines and chronic tension headaches*. Two hundred and eighteen headache patients were given either drug therapy or regular chiropractic care. While both groups reported a reduction in headache pain at the end of the study, only the chiropractic group still had a decrease in pain four weeks after discontinuing all care.

This study clearly highlights the best aspect of chiropractic care for migraine—that it is a long term solution for a chronic problem. A painkiller may temporarily relieve suffering, but chiropractic care targets the very cause of the disorder.

Chiropractic treatment is also drug-free, allowing the patient relief from pain without the damaging side effects often seen with medical treatment. There is also no risk of rebound headaches, and this type of care may help to avert worst case scenarios (including stroke) by reducing the frequency or eliminating the symptoms of migraine.

The team of chiropractors at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation uses many established techniques to treat spinal misalignment, a cause of migraine. Of the many treatment options offered, the primary analysis used is known as Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP). This is a higher level of chiropractic that uses a comprehensive, systematic, and scientific approach for reliable results for many disorders, including migraine.

To learn more about how the team at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation can treat and ultimately cure migraine, please contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.

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*The study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.