Does your head hurt? – Part 3

Monkey Frowning

The last couple of weeks we have looked at tension headache and cervicogenic headache. In the final installment of this trilogy we look at Migraine headache, also just called Migraine. It occurs in approximately 15% of the general population3.

A migraine commonly feels like a throbbing, unilateral and severe headache. It typically lasts for 4-72 hours and other symptoms often include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or movement1,2.


People will often identify and experience an aura at the onset of their migraine. This is a transient focal neurological phenomenon. It can take the form of a visual, sensory, speech or motor disturbance. Recognizing this sign is important to incorporate early interventions to prevent the migraine from developing. 33% of migraine sufferers report experiencing an aura1.

The exact cause or pain source of a migraine is unknown, however there are a number of theories4.

One of these theories suggest that there is evidence of the cervical spine being a factor in migraine, that intracranial vascular changes may be effected by cervical dysfunction, a source of migraine pain4,5,6.

Migraine is commonly treated with medication; however, some people are unable to tolerate the medication due to strong side effects. Other people want to avoid taking medication leading them to seek out other options3.

The side effects of medication may include sedation, blurred vision, constipation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tingling or burning sensations on the skin, dry eyes and sensitivity to light.

In contrast, the side effects of manual therapy, specifically chiropractic manipulation may include neck soreness and stiffness4.

Research has shown manual therapy is an alternative migraine treatment to medication, including spinal manipulative therapy3. At 3Ways Chiropractic, David and myself employ a multi-modal approach to treatment. This means that treatment can include spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, nutritional advice, and rehabilitation and exercise prescription.

I hope you have enjoyed our series on headaches, please contact us if you have any questions regarding headaches.

Yours in chiropractic,

Dr. Nat



  1. The International Classification of Headache Disorders: 2nd edition. Cephalalgia 2004; 24 (Suppl. 1): 9–160
  2. Bond DS, O’Leary KC, Thomas JG, Lipton RB, Papandonatos GD, Roth J, Rathier L, Daniello, Wing RR. Can weight loss improve migraine headaches in obese women? Rationale and design of the Women’s Health and Migraine (WHAM) randomized controller trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials 2013; 35: 133–144
  3. Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. Journal of Headache and Pain 2011; 12: 127-133
  4. Harris SP. Chiropractic management of a patient with migraine headache. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2005; 1(4): 25-31
  5. Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, Boline P, Goldsmith C, Anderson AV. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for the prophylaxis of migraine headaches. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1998; 21: 511–519
  6. Seaman D. Joint complex dysfunction, a novel term to replace subluxation/subluxation complex: etiological and treatment considerations. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997; 20: 634–44
Does your head hurt? – Part 2
Chiropractic Care for Babies

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