Understanding Migraines: Causes, Treatments, and the Role of Chiropractic Care - Doc Rob Chiropractic Wellness Clinics

Understanding Migraines: Causes, Treatments, and the Role of Chiropractic Care


Migraines are more than just headaches; they are debilitating neurological conditions that can significantly impact daily life. Affecting millions worldwide, migraines cause intense throbbing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. This article provides a comprehensive overview of migraines, including their causes, conventional treatments, and how chiropractic care can play a crucial role in managing this condition.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a type of headache characterized by severe, pulsating pain, usually on one side of the head. Migraines often come with additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Unlike regular headaches, migraines can last for hours or even days and can be preceded by sensory disturbances known as aura, which includes visual changes, tingling in the limbs, and difficulty speaking.

There are several types of migraines, including:

  • Migraine with aura: This type involves sensory disturbances before the headache begins.
  • Migraine without aura: The most common type, which occurs without the warning signs.
  • Chronic migraine: When headaches occur on 15 or more days per month for more than three months, with at least eight of those days having migraine features.

What is an Aura?

An aura is a group of sensory disturbances that occur shortly before a migraine headache. These disturbances usually develop gradually over several minutes and typically last for less than an hour. Auras can be visual, sensory, or speech-related. Common symptoms of aura include:

  • Visual Disturbances: Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots (scotomas) in one or both eyes. Some people may also experience temporary vision loss.
  • Sensory Changes: Tingling or numbness that typically starts in one hand and moves up the arm before affecting the face, lips, and tongue.
  • Speech and Language Problems: Difficulty speaking, finding the right words, or forming coherent sentences.
  • Other Symptoms: Dizziness, a sense of vertigo, or a feeling of confusion.

What Happens in the Body During a Migraine?

Migraines are believed to be a result of abnormal brain activity that affects nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. Here’s a breakdown of the physiological mechanisms behind migraines:

  • Neurovascular Theory: Suggests that migraines are a neurovascular disorder involving both neurological and vascular changes in the brain. Triggers cause a wave of electrical activity to spread across the cortex, followed by a constriction and then dilation of blood vessels in the brain, causing inflammation and pain.
  • Chemical Imbalances: Neurotransmitters like serotonin drop during a migraine attack, causing the trigeminal nerve to release neuropeptides, which travel to the brain’s outer covering (meninges) and cause blood vessels to become inflamed and dilated, leading to pain.
  • Genetic Factors: Genetics play a significant role in migraines. Mutations in certain genes involved in neuron and blood vessel function can increase susceptibility to migraines.
  • Brainstem Dysfunction: Dysfunction in the brainstem and its interaction with the trigeminal nerve can lead to the activation of the nerve, causing the release of substances that irritate and inflame the blood vessels in the brain.

Common Causes of Migraines

Understanding the triggers and causes of migraines can help in managing and preventing them. Common causes include:

  • Genetic Factors: Migraines often run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition.
  • Environmental Triggers: Stress, loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells can trigger migraines.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in estrogen levels, particularly in women, can lead to migraines. This often occurs during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause.
  • Dietary Triggers: Certain foods and drinks, such as alcohol, caffeine, and aged cheeses, can trigger migraines.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Irregular sleep patterns, dehydration, and physical exertion can also contribute to the onset of migraines.

Conventional Treatments for Migraines

Migraines can be managed with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Conventional treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter Medications: Common pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin can help alleviate mild migraine pain.
  • Prescription Medications: Triptans and ergotamines are often prescribed to treat severe migraines. Anti-nausea drugs may also be used to address associated symptoms.
  • Preventative Medications: Beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Stress management techniques, dietary changes, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule are crucial in managing migraines.
  • Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy have shown promise in reducing migraine symptoms.

Migraine Supportive Care Tips

In addition to medical treatments, supportive care strategies can help manage and prevent migraines:

  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. However, it is important to avoid sudden, intense exercise.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential as dehydration can trigger migraines.
  • Healthy Diet: Eating regular meals and maintaining a balanced diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent migraines.
  • Stress Management: Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can help reduce stress.
  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Maintaining a regular sleep routine, with the same wake and sleep times, can help prevent migraines.
  • Avoiding Triggers: Identifying and avoiding specific triggers can reduce the likelihood of migraine attacks.

Migraine Pain Home Remedies

Several home remedies can provide relief during a migraine attack:

  • Cold Compress: Applying a cold pack or ice wrapped in a cloth to the forehead can help reduce migraine pain.
  • Hydration: Drinking water and staying hydrated can help alleviate migraine symptoms.
  • Caffeine: In small amounts, caffeine can help reduce migraine pain, but be cautious as too much can trigger migraines.
  • Ginger: Ginger tea or supplements can help reduce nausea and migraine pain.
  • Essential Oils: Lavender and peppermint oils can be applied to the temples or inhaled to help reduce headache symptoms.
  • Dark, Quiet Room: Resting in a dark, quiet room can help ease migraine symptoms. Minimizing sensory input can be very effective during an attack.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help with Migraines

Chiropractic care focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. Misalignments in the spine, known as subluxations, can interfere with nervous system function and may contribute to migraine headaches. Chiropractors use various techniques to correct these misalignments and restore proper function.

Spinal Adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments can help realign the spine, reducing pressure on nerves that may be contributing to migraines.

Manual Therapy: Techniques such as trigger point therapy can relieve muscle tension and reduce headache frequency and intensity.

Research and Evidence: Several studies support the effectiveness of chiropractic care in managing migraines. For example, a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that patients receiving chiropractic care reported significant improvements in migraine frequency and intensity.

Patient Education and Lifestyle Counseling: Chiropractors often provide advice on posture, ergonomics, and lifestyle modifications that can help prevent migraines.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Migraine Sufferers

Chiropractic care offers several benefits for those suffering from migraines:

  • Non-invasive and Drug-free Treatment: Chiropractic care provides a natural alternative to medications, reducing the risk of side effects.
  • Holistic Approach: Chiropractors address the root cause of migraines rather than just the symptoms, leading to more effective and lasting relief.
  • Personalized Care: Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and specific triggers, ensuring the best possible outcomes.
  • Preventative Focus: Regular chiropractic adjustments can help maintain spinal health and prevent future migraines.
  • Overall Well-being: Chiropractic care can improve posture, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life.

Scientific References

  • A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found significant improvement in migraine frequency and intensity with chiropractic care.
  • A review in the Journal of Headache and Pain highlights the potential benefits of spinal manipulation in migraine management.
  • Clinical trials and meta-analyses on chiropractic interventions show promising results for headache and migraine relief.


Migraines can be a debilitating condition, but understanding their causes and exploring various treatment options can lead to effective management. Chiropractic care offers a natural, non-invasive approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity. If you suffer from migraines, consider consulting a chiropractor to explore how spinal adjustments and personalized care can help you find relief.

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If you’re struggling with migraines and looking for a natural solution, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our experienced chiropractors. Contact us today to book your appointment and take the first step toward a migraine-free life.

About the Author Doc Rob

​ Doc Rob is a man with a mission and outside of the transformations, he performs day in and day on his patient's health and well-being you can always find him out there in the local Filipino community helping to educate and improve the lives of everyday people with the Doc Rob Wellness Mission.