Recent research has shown that chiropractic treatment is effective in the management and cure of both common and classical migraine. There are two types of chiropractic interventions used in treating headaches. THey are known as "straight" chiropractic and "mixed chiropractic."
"Straight" chiropractors treat headaches by manipulating the spine to correct subluxation and other imbalances. The mixed chiropractic treatment for headaches is a combination of manipulation and other therapies, focusing on reducing the tension in the neck muscles.
Mixed chiropractors will most likely treat existing headaches with spinal manipulation, focusing on the neck. They will feel not just the bones, but also the surrounding areas. Do the muscles on both sides of the spine feel the same? Does one side feel like it has a knot? Are the muscles raised or swollen? Do they feel hot? Sometimes the side-to-side differences are subtle, sometimes they're great.
It is believed that manipulation will help to relieve many headaches in progress because the overwhelmng majority of them are related to tension, which yields to manipulation. However, a great number of headache sufferers have ongoing problems with their necks that require two to three manipulations per week for four to six weeks in order to permanently correct the problem. Such therapy will reduce the frequency and/or severity of headaches for many people.
Chiropractors often augment their manipulation therapy with physical therapy, such as ultrasound or electric muscle stimulation. Massage or soft-tissue work on the affected muscles may be prescribed. Toward the end of the treatment program the patient might be given exercises to strengthen and balance the muscles. Chiropractor may also recommend nutritional, homeopathic or other therapies. They will also investigate your history to determine if any foods or other "triggers" are responsible for the headaches.
If there is no improvement within approximately two weeks, the chiropractor will change the therapy. If there is still no improvement after four to six weeks, the patient will most likely be referred out for more diagnostic studies.
Studies have shown the efficacy of chiropractic treatment in the management and cure of both common and classical migraine.
Wight (ACA Journal of Chiropractic in 1978) reviewed earlier studies since 1923, and found that success rates (cure or marked improvement) were between 72 and 90 percent. His own success rate in a study of eighty-seven consecutive patients was 74.7 percent. This was maintained two years after treatment ended. The improvement rate applied equally to common and classical migraine and for male and female patients.
Another study, known as the Parker trial, was commissioned and funded by the Australian Federal Government expressly to determine whether chiropractic adjustment provided an effective treatment for migraine. The study found that it did. The eighty-five patients participated in the trial had suffered regular migraine attacks for an average of nineteen years. They were divided into three groups: one receiving chiropractic adjustment, one medical/physiotherapy manipulation, and one medical/ physiotherapy mobilization. All three treatments proved to be effective, but the chiropractic results indicated superiority on all measures reported --- complete cure, frequency of attack, mean duration, mean disability, and mean intensity of pain.
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