Like all kinds of headache, Migraines are disruptive, painful and emotionally draining. Severe migraines, however, can and often do debilitate people’s lives, causing them to spend hours in darkened rooms and living in dread of the next attack.



Migraine headaches are usually one-sided and characterised by severe pounding on top of the head or behind the eye and associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sounds, changes in appetite, mood and libido.

Migraine is thought to be due to a vascular event in the head which involves an initial constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of the vessels. More research on the exact cause is needed, but with around 190,000 migraine attacks taking place each day, migraine is clearly a widespread problem.

There are two main types of migraine – common and classic, some sufferers experience only one type, but many will experience both at one time or another.


Common Migraine

Which accounts for about 80-85% of attacks. Researchers think that a change in cerebral blood flow could be responsible for the symptoms of this headache, but there are still many questions about this theory.

Common migraine is more common in females, and normally involves:

  • a unilateral pulsing headache
  • the onset of the condition in early adulthood
  • low-level pulsing headache which continues perhaps for days
  • periods of a severe headache which can be disabling
  • associated nausea and vomiting.


Classic Migraine

The other type of migraine, classic migraine, accounts for about 10-15% of attacks. Classic migraine has essentially the same symptoms but is preceded by what is known as ‘aura’ or ‘prodrome’. This describes symptoms experienced prior to the onset of the throbbing headache such as:

  • visual symptoms such as flashing lights (scintillation)
  • the presence of a blind spot (scotoma).

This usually lasts up to 30 minutes after which it is replaced by the familiar symptoms of common migraine, which can last for a few hours to 3 days.

Photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights) is common and bright lights can also provoke the pain. Again, the cause of these headaches are not fully understood but are thought to be related to the changes in blood flow, the presence of certain chemicals and the way in which nerves send signals.



The first step in treating Migraine is to ensure that Migraine is, in fact, the problem. Especially as it relates to common migraine, the symptoms can often be replicated in a headache case which is caused, for example, by muscular strain in the neck.

Where migraine is confirmed there are two main treatment approaches – Chiropractic care has been shown to be effective in reducing migraines, while work to identify, minimise and avoid potential triggers can help a sufferer to reduce their episodes.

The causes and triggers for migraine will often vary. There is a genetic hereditary link – and in women, it can be associated with their monthly hormonal cycle. Many migraine sufferers do report specific triggers, or can eventually identify them after some monitoring – these often include:

  • Periods of stress, and after periods of stress (commonly occurs on over the weekend or holidays)
  • Some foods (commonly; chocolate, caffeine, nitrates, cheese, nuts and wine)
  • Some medications
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Hormonal changes (associations with the menstrual cycle)
  • Tension in the neck and neck pain (especially the upper part of the neck)

Chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture are all potential methodologies to reduce the impact of some of these triggers.


Why Choose Complete Chiropractic?

As the exact cause of migraine and associated triggers are poorly understood, finding the right treatment for migraine sufferers has often been difficult.

At Complete Chiropractic we have a variety of specialisms all under one roof – this means we are well positioned to help you identify and minimise possible migraine triggers via a range of approaches. More directly,Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of migraine in many sufferers.[1] [2]One of the hypothesised reasons for this is the normalising of vertebral and nerve function in the neck which helps to reduce the vasoconstriction and dilation of blood vessels in the brain.[3]




[1] Tuchin PJ, The efficacy of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) in the treatment of migraine. ACO 1997;6;41-47

[2] Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R, a randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal ,manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manip Physiol Ther 2000; 23;91-95

[3] Vernon H, Steiman I, Hagino C. Cervicogenic dysfunction in muscle contraction headache and migraine. JManipulative Physiol Ther 1992; 15:418-29


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