Migraine Signs and Symptoms
The headache from a migraine, classic or common, has the following characteristics:
- Throbbing, pounding, or pulsating pain
- Often, begins on one side of your head and may spread to both or stay localized
- Most intense pain is often concentrated around the temple(s) (side of the forehead)
- Commonly lasts from 6 to 48 hours
Accompanying symptoms that may precede or occur at the same time as the migraine include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness described as lightheadedness or even vertigo (feeling like the room is spinning)
- Loss of appetite
- Visual disturbances, like seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines, temporary blind spots (for example, loss of your peripheral vision), or blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Extreme sensitivity to light (called photophobia)
- Parts of your body may feel numb, weak, or tingly
- Light, noise, and movement—especially bending over—make your head hurt worse; you want to lie down in a dark, quiet room
Symptoms that may linger even after the migraine has resolved:
- Feeling mentally dull, like your thinking is not clear or sharp
- Increased need for sleep
- Neck pain
Several well-designed trials support the effectiveness of spinal manipulation therapy in the treatment of migraine headaches.
In one study, for example, including 127 people with migraine headaches, 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of migraines and 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each episode.
In another study, 218 individuals with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (amitryptiline—a drug used to prevent pain in chronic conditions such as migraine headache), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation was as effective as the medication and had fewer side effects. There was no added benefit to combining the two therapies.
In addition, a review article evaluating nine studies that tested spinal manipulative therapy for tension or migraine headaches concluded that this chiropractic technique is comparable to medications used to try to prevent either of these two types of headaches.
A study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT), showed that people suffering with migraine headaches were helped with chiropractic care. The study was conducted in Australia at the Chiropractic Research Center of Macquarie University. In this research 177 volunteers were studied who had migraine headaches for over 18 years on average. Many of the participants also suffered from neck pain.
The average response of the group that received chiropractic care showed a statistically significant improvement in migraine frequency, duration, and disability. The study also showed that those who received chiropractic care were able to reduce their medication use, with a significant number reducing their medication usage to zero! Additionally, 59% had no neck pain after a period of two months, and another 35% had a decrease in neck pain.
The researchers concluded this study, built on previous studies that had similar results.
"There have now been several studies demonstrating significant improvement in headaches or migraines after chiropractic."
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