Migraine Treatment: A migraine is a debilitating, neurological condition characterized by chronic headache pain. Many people frequently seek medical attention for migraines, however, some healthcare professionals may often prescribe pain drugs and/or medications for migraine headaches. Pain killers can cause undesirable side-effects if not utilized properly. Research studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can be a safe and effective migraine treatment option. The purpose of chiropractic migraine headache pain treatment is to prevent migraines as well as decrease the frequency of attacks.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world. Approximately 12 percent of the population, including children, suffers from migraines, where nearly 1 in 4 United States households include someone who experiences debilitating headaches. Migraines can cause intense throbbing pain or a severe pulsing sensation, generally on one side of the head. Common symptoms include, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Other common symptoms include, aura in vision or distorted vision, dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, nasal congestion and scalp tenderness. Symptoms may vary from person to person and not everyone will experience all the symptoms mentioned above. Furthermore, some people may experience mild and/or moderate pain and have less frequent attacks than others.
Dr. Alex Jimenez is an experienced and qualified chiropractor who specializes in migraine treatment through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, among other chiropractic methods and techniques. Chiropractic care focuses on treating the source of the issue rather than treating the symptoms alone. In addition, Dr. Alex Jimenez may recommend lifestyle modifications, including nutritional advice as well as exercise and physical activity guidance, to promote further relief. According to several research studies, chiropractic care can be a safe and effective migraine headache pain treatment.
A migraine is caused by changes in the nervous system. Migraine headaches consist of severe throbbing pain or a pulsating pain. This usually occurs on one side of the head. Migraines often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.
They can be accompanied by:
Pain associated with migraines can last for hours, days and can be so intense that the pain is disabling.
Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. Talk to a doctor about different migraine treatment options. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, can help.
Migraines can go through 4 phases: Prodrome, Aura, Headache or (Attack phase) and the Postdrome or (Recovery phase).
Prodrome symptoms can include:
Aura symptoms can include:
Aura Visual symptoms can include:
Headache phase symptoms can include:
As the trigeminal nerve is inflamed during a migraine, pain may occur around the eyes, the sinus area, teeth and jaw.
Postdrome symptoms can include:
Not everyone goes through all of the stages and each phase can vary in length and severity.
If migraines exist in family history, a headache doctor (neurologist) can diagnose the migraines based on medical history, symptoms, and physical and neurological examination.
A doctor may also recommend additional tests to rule out other possible causes of head pain if the condition is unusual, complex or suddenly becomes severe.
Blood tests: A doctor will order these to test for blood problems, infections in the spinal cord or brain, and toxins in the system.
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan combines a series of X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of the brain. This helps in diagnosing tumors, infections, brain damage, bleeding in the brain and other possible medical problems that could be causing the headaches.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI produces detailed images of the brain and blood vessels. MRI scans help diagnose tumors, strokes, bleeding in the brain, infections, and other brain/nervous system (neurological) conditions.
Spinal tap (lumbar puncture): A doctor may recommend a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) if they suspect an infection, bleeding in the brain or other underlying condition. A thin needle is inserted between two vertebrae in the lower back to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.
Various types of migraine treatment options can help stop symptoms and prevent future attacks.
Medications have been designed to treat migraines. Some drugs often used to treat other conditions can also help relieve or prevent migraines. Medications used to combat migraines fall into two categories:
Pain-relieving medications: These are also known as acute or abortive treatment. These types of medications are taken during a migraine and are designed to stop symptoms.
Preventive medications: These types of medications are taken regularly, usually on a daily basis, to reduce the severity or frequency of the migraines.
A migraine treatment strategy depends on the frequency and severity of the headaches, degree of disability the headaches cause, and other medical conditions.
Some medications are not recommended when pregnant or breast-feeding. Some medications are not given to children. A doctor can help find the right medication.
Pain-relieving medications should be taken, as soon as, signs or symptoms present themselves for best results. Resting or sleeping in a dark room after taking them can help, as well. These medications include:
Pain Relievers: Aspirin or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB,) can help relieve mild migraines. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), can also help relieve mild migraines.
Drugs marketed specifically for migraines, such as the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine (Excedrin Migraine), also can ease moderate migraine pain. These are not effective by themselves for severe migraines.
If taken too often or for long periods, can lead to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and headaches caused by medication overuse.
The prescription pain reliever Indomethacin may help thwart a migraine and is available in suppository form, which may be helpful if you’re nauseated.
Triptans: These medications are often used in treating migraines. Triptans make blood vessels constrict and block pain pathways in the brain.
Triptans effectively relieve the pain and other symptoms that are associated with migraines. They are available in pill, nasal spray and injection form.
Triptan medications include:
Side effects of triptans include injection site reactions, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and muscle weakness. They are not recommended for people with risk of stroke and heart attack.
A single-tablet combination of sumatriptan and naproxen sodium (Treximet) has proved to be more effective in relieving migraine symptoms than by themselves.
Ergots: Ergotamine and caffeine medications (Migergot, Cafergot) are not as effective as triptans. Ergots are most effective for pain lasts for more than 48 hours. They are most effective when taken after symptoms begin.
Ergotamine can worsen nausea and vomiting, and can also lead to medication-overuse headaches.
Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal) is an ergot derivative that is more effective and has fewer side effects than ergotamine. Also less likely to lead to medication-overuse headaches. It’s available in nasal spray and injection.
Anti-nausea medications: Nausea medication is commonly combined with other medications. Usually prescribed medications are chlorpromazine, metoclopramide (Reglan) or prochlorperazine (Compro).
Opioid medications: Opioid medications are sometimes used to treat migraine pain for those who can’t take triptans or ergots. Narcotics are habit-forming and are usually used only if no other migraine treatment provides relief.
Glucocorticoids (prednisone, dexamethasone): A glucocorticoid may be used with other medications to improve pain relief. However, glucocorticoids should not be used often to avoid side effects.
Candidates for preventive therapy:
Preventive medications can reduce the frequency, severity and length of migraines and can increase the effectiveness of symptom relieving medicines used during attacks. It can take several weeks to see improvements in symptoms.
A doctor may recommend daily preventive medications, or only when predictable triggers, i.e. menstruation are about to happen.
Preventive medications don’t stop headaches completely, and some cause serious side effects. If preventive medicines are working and keeping migraines under control then a doctor may recommend tapering off the medication to see if migraines return without it.
The most common preventive medications include:
Cardiovascular Medications: Beta blockers, which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Beta blockers propranolol (Inderal LA, Innopran XL) metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and timolol (Betimol) have proven effective for migraine prevention. Other beta blockers can also be used for migraine treatment. One might not notice improvement in symptoms for several weeks after taking these.
If older than age 60, use tobacco, or have heart or blood conditions, a doctor may recommend a different medication.
A different class of cardiovascular medications (calcium channel blockers), which are used to treat high blood pressure can also be helpful in preventing migraines and relieving symptoms. Verapamil (Calan, Verelan) is a calcium channel blocker that can help prevent migraines with aura.
The angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor lisinopril (Zestril) can be used to reduce the length and severity of the migraines.
Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants may be effective in preventing migraines, even in those that are not depressed.
Tricyclic antidepressants can reduce frequency of migraines by affecting the level of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. Amitriptyline is the only tricyclic antidepressant proven to effectively prevent migraines. Other tricyclic antidepressants can be used as they contain fewer side effects than the amitriptyline.
Side effects of these medications are sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain and other side effects.
Antidepressant known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors has not been proven to be effective for migraine prevention and can even worsen or trigger headaches.
Research has shown one serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor, venlafaxine (Effexor XR), can be helpful in migraine prevention.
Anti-Seizure Medications: Some anti-seizure medications, such as valproate (Depacon) and topiramate (Topamax), seem to reduce the frequency of migraines.
High doses of anti-seizure medications can cause side effects. Valproate sodium can cause nausea, tremors, weight gain, hair loss and dizziness. Valproate should not be used for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant.
Topiramate can cause diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, memory difficulty and concentration problems.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox): Botox has shown to be helpful for treating chronic migraines in adults.
During this procedure, botox is injected into the muscles of the forehead and neck. The treatment is usually repeated every 12 weeks.
Pain Relieving Medications: Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen (Naprosyn), can help prevent migraines and reduce symptoms.
Non-traditional therapies can be helpful as well.
A high dose of riboflavin (vitamin B-2) can also prevent migraines or reduce the frequency.
Coenzyme Q10 supplements can decrease the frequency of migraines, but is still being studied.
Some people have low magnesium levels, magnesium supplements have been used to treat migraines, but with mixed results.
Ask a doctor about these migraine treatment options. Don’t use feverfew, riboflavin or butterbur if pregnant or without first talking with a doctor.
Chiropractic treatment for migraines consists of moving, stretching and manipulating the spine. Chiropractic treatment does not use medication or surgery, but uses X-rays and other examinations to analyze how the spine is and how an adjustment might impact the patient’s health. Chiropractic treatment implements devices like shoe inserts, braces, straps and other tools. Chiropractic treatment also includes advice on lifestyle issues i.e. exercise, nutrition and stress management.
A study examined chiropractic treatment for various types of headaches, including migraines. The study combined the results of 22 studies, which contained more than 2,600 patients. The studies showed that chiropractic treatment can serve, as a well as, preventive treatment.
Another study found that 22% of people who had chiropractic treatment saw the number of attacks drop 90%. Within that same study, 49% had significant reduction in pain intensity.
In rare cases, chiropractic treatment side effects include:
If there is dizziness, vertigo, nausea or loss of consciousness after receiving chiropractic treatment seek immediate medical attention.
If you suffer from migraine headache pain, chiropractic care can help improve your quality of life by providing you with the relief you need for your specific health issue. Chiropractic care can help the body naturally heal itself by carefully correcting a spinal misalignment, or subluxation, restoring the original structure and function of the spine. Dr. Alex Jimenez and his staff aspire to provide overall health and wellness to all of his patients, making sure to treat his patients as a whole, rather than focusing on a single injury and/or condition. Contact our office today to learn more about what chiropractic care can do for you or contact us to set up an appointment. With chiropractic care, you will be able to return to your original life in no time.