When was your last “dark room” day? You know the ones I’m talking about. When light and sound hurt your face, and the only thing you can do is curl up under a thick blanket in a dark room because the squirrel climbing the tree outside won’t SHUT UP ALREADY! I get it. I’ve been there. Migraines are a common challenge worldwide, but dark room days don’t have to control your life.
In my experience there’s about 13 different things that cause migraine headaches. They range from something simple like a mechanical cause (coming from the neck or TMJ) to something more complicated like hormonal or arterial causes. What ever the case may be, migraine headaches can be quite debilitating.
Most people that suffer from migraines will seek out treatment from a medical doctor and will very likely be prescribed a drug to help manage their migraines. However, a common concern when receiving treatment for migraines is the side effects and whether the risks of these side effects are worse than the migraine itself. Adverse events from pharmaceuticals for migraines are extremely common clinical trials, but are migraine drugs really the best option for treatment?
What may come as a surprise to you (or maybe not at this point if you’re keeping up with my posts) is that manual therapy from a chiropractor (i.e. the adjustment or “manipulation”) is a non-pharmacological treatment for migraines that has similar benefits as most migraine drugs on the market, but without the risk of adverse events. But don’t just take my word for it, take a looksie at this article from the journal of Musculoskeletal Science and Practice titled, “Adverse Events in a Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy Single-blinded, Placebo, Randomized Controlled Trial for Migraines.”
Let’s dive in, shall we? This study looked at 3 groups. The first 2 groups are obvious: Group 1 was a drugs only group and Group 2 was an adjustment only group. That makes sense, but how can we compare with certainty if a chiropractic adjustment really does anything for migraines? We need something similar but not really the same thing to compare it to. Well, as a chiropractor we pride ourselves on providing SPECIFIC adjustments to the spine; that’s how we differentiate ourselves from other physical medicine professions (such as physical therapy, osteopathy, and massage). So, after reading this article to see how they can, in fact, make a comparison, the answer is ostensibly a NON-specific adjustment to anything BUT the spine.
That means Group 3 received what was called a “sham” adjustment. I’m not going to lie, I chuckled out loud when reading how they described this “sham” non-specific adjustment. For the sake of not getting too wordy, imagine with me for a moment…have you ever seen (or participated in) a mosh pit? Just a bunch of people running around in circles and shoving each other for the sole purpose of shoving? That’s what I envision a “sham” adjustment is like. Just walk up to someone and shove. It would make for a good comparison since there’s no way that could possibly be therapeutic…(OR CAN IT??)
Anyway…you get the idea. Moving on.
Group 1 was prescribed a common migraine drug to manage their symptoms while Group 2 received specific chiropractic adjustments. The results are this: migraine days were significantly reduced within both groups, however the reduction of migraine symptoms continued with those under chiropractic care at the 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups whereas those under drug therapy reverted to baseline symptoms at the same follow-up appointments.
TL;DR: migraine drugs result in continuous adverse events and a worse long-term outcome, whereas adverse events from chiropractic manipulation are rarely observed, and IF they occur, they are mild and transient. Also, it appears that chiropractic adjustments address the CAUSE of migraine headaches whereas pharmaceuticals alone provide temporary pain control with no benefit to the cause of migraines.
So, I ask again, when was your last “dark room” day? There is a light outside of the dark room, and chiropractic can help!
Chaibi, A., Benth, J. Š, Tuchin, P. J., & Russell, M. B. (2017, March 14). Adverse events in a chiropractic spinal manipulative ... Retrieved 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28324697