Next to back pain and neck pain, headaches are the most commonly reported complaint in the office. Some people come in with a spinal pain complaint and don't know that spinal correction could address the cause of their headaches. Some people come in with a primary complaint of headaches and find out that spinal correction helps out other conditions and symptoms that they were not expecting to improve under corrective chiropractic care. The beauty in objectively improving spinal health is that it positively affects every aspect of a person's life and health. Migraine's and headaches are certainly one problem that can drain the life out of your days.
Migraines are a debilitating problem that can decrease a person's quality of life. There are many treatment options for migraines; however, many only offer temporary relief before another migraine ruins your plans. Corrective chiropractic care has helped many people decrease the severity and intensity of their migraines or headaches while some people achieve complete relief. Though chiropractic is not a specific treatment for migraines, it can produce such profound effects because of the relationship of the brainstem to the upper neck.
Recent research has revealed that the shape and size of the brainstem plays a role in migraine sufferers. A 2017 study titled Structural alterations of the brainstem in migraine (1) looked into the brainstems of people with migraines. They found that the shape and volume of the brainstems in migraine patients were different from the healthy control group. In general, the brainstems of the migraine group were smaller and displayed deformations. One of the consistent outward deformations noted were of the lateral medulla which is closely related to the top bone in the neck. The researchers concluded that these features of the migraine brainstems are likely leading to altered sensory processing and increases in pain sensitivity.
Upper cervical care is a spinal corrective chiropractic technique that focuses on realigning the top bones in the neck where they have been shifted by accidents and injuries such as whiplash. This type of injury is often very minor and not producing pain so many people are unaware of the problem. It is very interesting that the research above found a relationship between deformation of the medulla because this part of the brainstem sits inside the top bone in the neck. These are likely the same relationships that explain the beneficial responses of migraine and headache patients to upper cervical chiropractic care. Based on the research data, it makes sense that a misalignment of the top of the neck causes changes in the shape of the brainstem as well as decreased blood flow to the brainstem itself. Accordingly, realigning the upper neck allows the brainstem to be free of stress allowing a normal function and decrease in symptoms like migraines and headaches.
A peer-reviewed paper titled Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for a Patient with Chronic Migraine Headaches with an Appendix Summarizing an Additional 100 Headache Cases (2) was authored by an upper cervical chiropractor to demonstrate outcomes in migraine sufferers under upper cervical chiropractic care. The author makes the connection between upper cervical injuries sustained through head/neck injury that were likely the cause of the misalignment of the upper neck producing migraine symptoms. The author reports that all headaches were diagnosed by each patient's physician and that most patients reported having "tried everything" for years to treat their headaches. The paper states, "From a total of 101 cases, 85 patients' headaches were completely resolved within 1 to 8 months of upper cervical care. Twelve of the remaining cases were improved in that their headaches were greatly reduced but some residual headaches occurred. All patients under the age of 18 had their headaches resolved within two months of care. Most adult cases were resolved within four months. Some subjects required six months or more for symptom abatement, but these were patients who had suffered with headaches for many decades. Four cases showed little to no improvement."
Headaches are a serious health concern that can be helped through upper cervical care. Call our office in Little River to schedule a consultation (843) 399-0182.
1. Catherine D. Chong, Jonathan D. Plasencia, David H. Frakes, and Todd J. Schwedta. Structural alterations of the brainstem in migraine. Neuroimage Clin. 2017; 13: 223-227. Published online 2016 Nov 2. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2016.10.023
2. Elster E. Upper cervical chiropractic care for a patient with chronic migraine headaches with an appendix summarizing an additional 100 headache cases [case report]. J Vert Sublux Res. 2003 ;AUG(3):Online access only 10 p.
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