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Migraines and Structural Chiropractic

by Dr. Willemin

TL;DR – Research shows that Structural Chiropractic care is really safe and really effective for migraines.

Your head is pounding, and just the lights in the room make it worse. You feel nauseated and even a whisper sounds like a megaphone pressed up against your ear. Yep…you have a migraine.

To put it bluntly – migraines suck. Let’s take a peek at the numbers. In America alone, there are 38 million people who suffer from migraines. Almost 1 in 5 women get migraines. Nine out of Ten people with migraines have missed work, with 59% reporting their work was cut in half! Migraines cost between $5.6 and $17.2 BILLION in productivity EVERY YEAR in the United States. (1)

Now, most of the people reading this, already know what a migraine is, because they are here because they have them. In case you are just reading because you want to learn something new, let’s get a quick overview of what exactly is a migraine. Migraines are severe headaches with specific symptoms. A migraine has four stages. Stage One: Prodrome Phase – the time preceding the migraine which typically has indicators such as food cravings, irritability, drowsiness, among others Stage Two: Aura Phase – this is typically a visual disturbance, but can also manifest as another sensory issue. Stage Three: Attack Phase – this is the acute phase of a migraine that can last from 4-72 hours. Finally, Stage Four: Postdrome Phase – this is the typically the 1 to 2 days following a migraine in which a person is recovering from the Attack Phase and is characterized by feeling drained or fatigued. (2)

Migraine diagnoses are not as clear cut as a positive or negative blood test or imaging scan. Rather, a migraine diagnosis comes from a combination of a patient’s history, symptoms and examination findings. (3) Unfortunately, not all migraines manifest the same way. Some migraine sufferers don’t have auras, or any distinct Prodrome Phase. This can make a migraine diagnosis a drawn out affair while symptoms are monitored, various testing is performed, and sometimes multiple medications are experimented with.

(Let’s take a second here to post this disclaimer – I am NOT a medical doctor. I am NOT making any recommendations FOR OR AGAINST medical treatments. For medical advice consult a medical doctor)

Some good news…sort of…Imitrex™ (Sumatriptan Succinate) has been shown in studies to be generally effective for migraine symptoms, and typically works within about 2 hours of taking it. The less great news is overuse can cause – you guessed it – headaches. The side effects of the medication are not pleasant either. Pain or tightness in the chest, jaw, throat, or neck; feeling of pressure or heaviness in your body; numbness/tingling in your fingers and toes; feeling hot or cold in your hands and feet; and feeling weak, drowsy, or tired are all COMMON side effects. In fact, feeling drowsy is so common that the medication warns against performing any task that requires you to be fully alert. (4) Hmm..the medication sounds almost as debilitating at the condition itself! Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not criticizing the medicine, the people using it, or the doctors prescribing it. Migraines really are horrible events and getting relief is a good thing. The question though, is this the only option?

I’m so glad you asked! No – there is preventative migraine medication. Prevention sounds great, but there are a few qualifiers first. The official recommendation to be considered for migraine prevention is having frequent attacks – meaning more than 1 per week (3). While this still applies to 2-3 million people, that leaves 35-36 million people out of luck (1). I am going to use this time to repeat the previous disclaimer – I am NOT a medical doctor and I am NOT making any recommendations FOR OR AGAINST medical treatments. For medical advice consult a medical doctor. Okay, now that I have made that perfectly clear I will give you a brief table regarding preventative medications for migraines.

Types of Medications Medication Class Side Effects
Blood Pressure Medication Beta Blockers Fatigue, Depression, Nausea, Insomnia, Dizziness
Blood Pressure Medication Calcium Channel Blockers Weight gain, Constipation, Dizziness, Low BP
Antidepressant Tricyclic Antidepressant Weight gain, Dry mouth, Sedation, Decreased libido
Antidepressant SSRI/SSNRI Weight gain or loss, decreased libido
Anticonvulsant Anticonvulsant Weight gain or loss, Sedation, Skin rash
Serotonin Antagonist Serotonin Antagonist Blood vessel spasm, Abdominal scarring (very rare)

 

The way that these drugs are used for migraine prevention can range from a single medication to a combination of 3 or more. (3)

Now what…are there any other options? The answer is definitely yes – let’s talk about Structural Chiropractic Correction. (If you need some background information on what Structural Chiropractic Correction is suggest you read this.)

So let’s start with the most basic question – do people even go to chiropractors for migraines? The article, “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headaches” found that chiropractic is both a safe and effective treatment for migraines (as well other types of headaches) (6) A survey found that many chiropractors even carry what is known as a Heavy Migraine Caseload. (7) If you suffer from migraines and you aren’t getting adjusted, you are missing out on a well established treatment which has been shown to be both safe and effective.

Okay, so we know that the medication options for migraines have been shown to be pretty effective, but they have some less than desirable side effects. What could I expect for side effects with a chiropractic approach? Well, the news is…pretty good actually. A study focused entirely on the sides effects of chiropractic adjustment and migraine sufferers found that the most common side effect was local tenderness after the adjustment, with the second most common side effect being tiredness the day of the adjustment. The study also found that no serious or severe side effects were observed! (8)

Okay, so we have seen that a lot of people see chiropractors for migraines and the side effects are pretty minimal, so how effective is the treatment? The answer here is also pretty good. One study focusing on the structural realignment of the top bone in a person’s neck (C1) was associated with decreased migraine frequency, improved quality of life scores, and reduced migraine related disability! (9) Another study comparing medicinal interventions, chiropractic, and sham treatments found that the chiropractic adjustment group did better than the medicinal group at 3, 6, and 12 month follow-ups following intervention. Also migraine duration and intensity were reduced more with chiropractic adjustment. (10)

So for a quick recap, we can see that there are a lot of people who suffer from migraines and a few different treatment options for those people. One treatment option that offers reduced frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines, while having minimal side effects – none of which were described as serious or severe is chiropractic care. So, then why is this article about Structural Chiropractic Correction and not just chiropractic care? Well that answer lies in yet another study. The study examined x-ray findings and people with tension-type headaches aka cervicogenic and migraines. The results were pretty overwhelming – 97% had a significant x-ray finding! In fact, 9 out of 10 women in the study had a significant reduced, absent, or reversed curve in their neck. (11) That is a pretty great example of why Structural Chiropractic Correction is what we choose to focus on at our office. Changes to the structure of your spine are often associated with significant and and debilitating symptoms. Getting rid of pain is great, but changing the structure allows the body to actually return to normal biomechanics and physiological function, and still gets rid of the pain along the way.

  1. https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-with-aura/multimedia/migraine-aura/vid-20084707
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360207
  4. https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/imitrex/
  5. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/preventive-treatments/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21640251
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29202816
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28324697
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26783523
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27696633
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1342581

I just want to talk to the Doctor!

Our consultation gets such rave reviews because it offers an opportunity to discover if Align Chiropractic is right for you BEFORE you commit to us. No pressure, no tricks, just a simple conversation to help you decide.

We start this friendly conversation with you telling us about your health concerns. Once we know what brought you in, then we will provide as much insight as we can pertaining to your issue. The third and final part of the consultation is where we will tell you what separates us from the community of chiropractors in the area, by telling you what we do.

Our Complimentary Consultation requires no commitment by you. You may have heard of chiropractors that have you in the exam room before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself. That isn’t how we would want to be treated, so that isn’t how we will treat you.

All we need is about twenty minutes of your time, after that it is your decision if you would like to move forward with an examination. There is no obligation, but for your convenience we always have a block of time for an exam available immediately following a consultation.

Maybe you’re just curious about chiropractic, the different types of chiropractic care available, or you want to find out what makes us different, but you aren’t ready to do a face-to-face sit down with the doctor. We’ve got you covered. Our office does periodic 20-30 minute workshops that will teach you the ins and outs of chiropractic care. At the conclusion of the presentation, we allow time for a question and answer session to let you ask anything you might have missed, including duration of care, insurance and finances, plus just about anything else you want. If you plan on attending a workshop, please call our office at 248-601-6100 to let us know.

How do I work with Align Chiropractic?

The people referred to our office typically come from other patients, their medical doctor, or their current traditional chiropractor. The reason people feel so comfortable referring to us is because our process  is simple and transparent.

Here is the how it works:

Step 1: Schedule a complimentary consultation

Step 2: If you think we sound like the place for you, then schedule a Structural Chiropractic Correction examination

Step 3: After your exam, we’ll schedule a conference where you will learn all about what we found and how we can help.

At this point you will know all about your condition, all about us, and how it feels to be treated by us. This will make you as informed as you can be to make your decision about undergoing treatment with us. We won’t be offering you a new TV or a free dinner for signing up. We also won’t be endlessly soliciting you for care; at this point if and when you are ready to improve your health we are ready to help you.

 

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What can Align Chiropractic do for me?

After discussing the various options that are available for your particular health challenges, we will then go into an explanation of the specifics of our approach in a detailed and easy to understand way. This will help you to understand the dramatic positive impact our approach can have on your health issues.

 

Our office is specially equipped to focus on Structural Chiropractic Correction. As a result of investing in the additional training and technology required to give complete Structural Chiropractic Correction, we are able to address all of the components of a Structural Shift that may occur. We are able put our training and equipment to work for you to address the shifted spinal segments, the muscles, the intervertebral discs, and even the nerves which are being affected by the Structural Shift.

 

Based on your individual needs we can implement some, or all of the following treatments to achieve the best possible outcome:

 

Chiropractic Adjustment:

While most people assume that all chiropractors adjust the spine, that is actually not true. We frequently will have patients seek our care that report to us that their previous chiropractor never adjusted them, but rather elected to use nutritional supplements or muscle therapy to try to correct their problem. Additionally, we are not a “one-size fits all” sort of office. Our adjustments are truly tailored to the needs and wants of our patients. We have trained in a wide variety of adjusting techniques and have then honed those approaches based on the most effective per research and clinical outcome. Our office is equipped, and Dr. Willemin is trained, to use structural techniques that range from instrument assisted adjustments, specialized table assisted adjustments, and manual adjustments based on the needs and wants of the patient. We even have special equipment that qualifies under the American Disability Act to help provide access to care, regardless of your physical limitations.

 

Spinal Decompression Rehabilitation:

 One component frequently involved in Structural Shifts are changes to the intervertebral discs. People will frequently report that they have “slipped discs”, “bulging discs” or “herniated discs” in their back or neck, but no one has taken the time to give them the full clinical picture. Injuries to the intervertebral discs are complex and can involve a variety of presentations and structures. We are, to our knowledge, the only office with a specialized Spinal Decompression Table in Rochester. We have helped many of our patients avoid unnecessary surgery with our ability to retract disc herniations and address the underlying Structural Shifts.

 

Flexion and Extension Spinal Rehabilitation:

  Our office is equipped with multiple other specialized tables and equipment to provide Structural Chiropractic Correction which address both flexion AND extension. Structural Shifts are not limited to presenting in only one direction, and so we are prepared for any of those presentations. We have the necessary equipment to address the spine completely – whether it requires isolated rehabilitation of one region of the spine or broad rehabilitation of multiple regions of the spine.

 

Laser Assisted Soft Tissue Rehabilitation:

 While all tissue healing takes time we have committed our office to getting the best results as fast as possible. We know that a major component of a Structural Shift are the soft tissues (things like muscles, tendons, and ligaments). Injuries to soft tissues have to go through 4 distinct stages, and frequently, these injuries are pain generating. We offer safe and effective Class IV Low Level Laser Therapy to help speed up soft tissue recovery.

 

Structural Massage Therapy:

  While most massages feel great while you’re receiving them, our goal is to use coordinated care between our highly skilled Licensed Massage Therapists to provide the right care to facilitate great outcomes when Structural Shifts have occurred. Additionally, our massage therapists use 100% pure natural oils. Many massage oils and creams use harsh compounds which can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and have even been associated with certain types of cancer. Our natural oils make sure you aren’t left with new issues for your body to cope with. We also offer essential oil boosts to our massages to improve the relaxation and stress reducing effects of the massage.

 

Vibration Therapy and Balance Training:

 Whether you are looking to improve athletic performance, trying to restore your ability to perform your daily routine, or hoping to prevent falls and injuries, your body’s ability to know where it is and move is essential to your daily life. Structural Shifts can result in losses in these areas. As we correct the underlying Structural Shifts we will also be re-training your body in these essential functions to make sure your body performs at top level.

 

There are not a lot of chiropractors that focus on Structural Correction, and even fewer that have all the special equipment we have to help address all the components of a Structural Shift. We will take the time to share with you exactly what makes our approach unique, and how a Structural Shift (if detected during your examination) is associated with your Secondary Condition.

 

Lastly, we will present a customized care plan that is carefully designed to take you from where you are to where you need to be, by addressing all aspects of the presentation of your specific Structural Shift (once again – if detected during your examination). We want you to get to enjoy your life, so we will help establish a sound structural foundation. We will also explain how to maintain your correction, while protecting your spine and nervous system after your Structural Correction has been achieved.

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What are my treatment options?

 

A vital part of our mission is to provide you with objective information regarding your treatment options. We aim to empower you to make the best decision regarding your healthcare needs.

In order to achieve this, we will do our best to explain to you how other chiropractors and and other healthcare professionals traditionally address your condition. We will not be rendering an opinion specific to any other chiropractic or non-chiropractic treatments for your specific health challenge, but we will try and help you understand the various approaches available for your condition.  Even if you choose to look elsewhere for a solution, we want you to know you can rely on us to act as an objective health and wellness resource.

We will also explore the best course of action to achieve a Structural Correction. We will discuss what services we recommend, as well as the details of the time and financial aspects of care. We don’t want anything to be a surprise while you are a patient at our office, and so we will do our best to share with you the whole picture of what Structural Correction involves.

Not surprisingly, this approach has led us to getting calls from relatives and friends of patients asking us questions pertaining to their health challenges. It is more important to us that people know they can get straightforward and trustworthy information from us, than to have them under our care. To us that is simply doing what is right.

 

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What are Secondary Conditions?

Symptoms, or as we refer to them, Secondary Conditions can be an indicator of a more serious underlying problem in your body. Your body uses these to warn you that your body is not functioning ideally. Some of the Secondary Conditions that present to our office:

  • Pain – Neck, Mid Back, Low Back, Hip, etc.
  • Numbness & Tingling – Arms, Hands, Fingers, Legs, Feet, Toes, etc.
  • Disc Injury – Bulging, Herniated, “Slipped”, etc
  • Radiculopathy – Sciactica, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, etc.
  • Muscular Spasms & Tension
  • Headaches – Tension, Migraines, etc.
  • Dizziness, Vertigo, and Balance Issues
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Stiff and Restricted Motion
  • Spinal Canal Stenosis
  • Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Pain
  • Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Poor Posture
  • Muscular Imbalance

These Secondary Conditions are just some of the examples of what presents to our of office. If you have are currently experiencing a Secondary Condition, you may want to have us explore whether or not you have an underlying Structural Shift. The first step in that process is to schedule a Complimentary Consultation with the doctor and have a conversation, which at our office, is not a commitment.

 

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What do I need to know before my examination?

After being introduced to our office via a consultation with the doctor, when a prospective patient elects to proceed, the next step is to undergo our Structural Chiropractic Correction examination. There is no pressure to move forward immediately. If you feel that you need time to consider what has been discussed during the consultation, our examination can be scheduled for a later time and date. In order to thoroughly evaluate your condition our Structural Chiropractic Correction examination is comprehensive. Thus, you should plan on designating at least 45 minutes of your time for us during this portion of your visit.

What will the Structural Correction Examination consist of?

  • Orthopedic and Neurological Tests and Checks
  • Complete series of Structural Corrective Radiography with Specialized Analysis
  • Grid Posture Analysis
  • Bilateral Weight Distribution Test

The Structural Chiropractic Correction Examination, while essential for detecting Structural Shifts, also allows for a complete understanding of the underlying cause of your condition, and will allow for an improved understanding of “normal”. A conference will be scheduled following your examination where our findings will be explained, how we can help you, and what the approach will be if you decide to move forward with care at our practice.

 

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