What Is Migraine?
Migraine is a neurological problem in the form of a severe headache from aches to crippling pain with visual disturbances and vomiting. Sometimes visual disturbances and nausea are experienced without headaches.
Conventional treatment is drug based medication:
- Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Triptans to reverse changes in the brain that may cause migraines
- Anti-emetics to reduce nausea and vomiting
Other potential management techniques are resting, staying in a darkened place and the avoidance of triggers such as certain foods, bright lights and stress.
What is Chiropractic Manipulation?
It’s sudden controlled force on a vertebrae joint or joints with a practitioner’s hands, or an instrument, in order to correct its alignment. It’s a common procedure and safe when done by a qualified chiropractor.
What Was The Study?
The pilot study observed the outcome of atlas realignment on migraine - the atlas bone being the top vertebrae.
If the atlas bone is out-of-place or misaligned it can cause headaches, poor posture and pain through altered blood flow to the head. Researchers wanted to find out if an altered or out-of-alignment atlas bone caused neurological problems.
Study subjects were selected by a neurologist. There were eleven in all - eight female and three male all between the ages of 21-61. All subjects had experienced migraine from two to 35 years and had at least 10 headache days a month.
Their medications were unchanged for the study and none had experienced whiplash or serious injury in the past.
Chiropractic treatment continued for eight weeks with imaging carried out with an MRI scan to measure the effects. Re-imaging of the atlas took place at week 4, halfway through the treatment, and at week eight.
The results were that migraine frequency decreased. Subjects had approximately 50% less headache days per month. On a self-assessed health related quality of life questionnaire subjects reported a big improvement.
But researchers don’t know exactly why it worked. Medical issues such as the head’s compliance, that is the amount of fluid pressure the brain can take from flows into it, showed no changes. Whatever atlas realignment does, it doesn’t appear to statistically alter tolerance of fluid intake into the head. In some subjects the compliance actually worsened.
And in the future?
There are a few issues with the study, namely that there was no placebo or control group to compare the chiropractic subjects against. The subject group was also very small. That said, no subjects reported pain or distress during or after their treatments and the results are promising, if not excellent.
An overall reduction in migraine is great news for those who cannot take migraine medication. Choice is always welcome in the medical world, so let’s hope studies continue into spinal correction treatments for migraine because 38 million Americans alone suffer from the condition, including children.
Further research is needed into why atlas realignment helps with migraine pain. A larger study group and placebos are important next steps because a pain-free life without drugs is a big step forward for people living with life-altering migraines.
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