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Chiropractic Care and Migraines

June is National Migraine Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is help make Migraines visible!

Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aching. They can range from mild to severe pain and usually occur on both sides of your head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common headache type is a tension headache. Triggers for this headache type include stress, muscle strain, or anxiety.
Tension headaches aren’t the only type of headache that occur. Other headache types include:

Cluster headaches
Cluster headaches are severely painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and come in clusters. This means you experience cycles of headache attacks, followed by headache-free periods.

Sinus headaches
Often confused with migraines, sinus headaches co-occur with sinus infection symptoms like fever, stuffy nose, cough, congestion, and facial pressure.

These headaches are intense or severe and often have accompanying symptoms in addition to head pain. Symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • pain behind one eye or ear
  • pain in the temples
  • seeing spots or flashing lights
  • sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • temporary vision loss
  • vomiting

When compared with tension or other headache types, migraine headache pain can be moderate to severe. Some people may experience headaches so severe they seek care at an emergency room. Migraine headaches will typically affect only one side of the head. However, it is possible to have a migraine headache that affects both sides of the head. Other differences include the pain’s quality: A migraine headache will cause intense pain that may be throbbing and will make performing daily tasks very difficult.









Migraine headaches are typically divided into two categories: migraine with aura and migraine without aura. An “aura” refers to sensations a person experiences before he or she gets a migraine. The sensations typically occur anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before attack. These can include:

  • feeling less mentally alert or having trouble thinking
  • seeing flashing lights or unusual lines
  • tingling or numbness in the face or hands
  • unusual sense of smell, taste, or touch

Some migraine sufferers may experience symptoms a day or two before the actual migraine occurs. Known as the “prodrome” phase, these subtler signs can include:

  • constipation
  • depression
  • frequent yawning
  • irritability
  • neck stiffness
  • unusual food cravings

Chiropractic care helps to correct any neuromusculoskeletal (nerves, muscles and bones of the body) source of your headache.  A spinal examination will be performed to determine whether the symptoms may be alleviated by chiropractic care. The examination can determine whether the headache may be caused, or aggravated by any misaligned vertebrae in the spine, a condition known as a subluxation, which may be creating undue nerve interference.

Chiropractic care may help prevent unnecessary tension and/or irritation in the neck and head. In some instances, chiropractic adjustments (specific spinal manipulations) can provide immediate relief from headaches. A study of 87 headache sufferers who were treated with chiropractic adjustments over a two-year period revealed marked improvement. The common migraine had ceased altogether or was much improved in 85 percent of the females and 50 percent of the males. For those with classical migraine, the improvement rate was 78 percent in females and 75 percent in males.

Every headache sufferer is an individual case and may require special instructions or recommendations from their chiropractor. If your condition requires the attention of other health care specialists, Dr. Karim will refer you to them.

And now, a message from the  American Headache Society® (AHS):
There are a number of reasons to help make Migraines visible. Two of the most significant of those reasons are:migraineawarenessmonth
  • Ridding ourselves of the myths and misconceptions about Migraines and the resulting stigma. Studies have shown that the stigma associated with Migraines increases the burden of living with the disease
  • Making Migraines more visible could result in more research funding which, in turn, would result in more and better treatments.
There are more than 37 million people in the United States who have Migraines. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if just 10% of us got serious about educating others and building awareness about Migraine? That would be 3.7 million of us, and just think what we could do!
Here are some ways we can work to make Migraines more visible:
  • Be honest and open about our own Migraines.
  • When we have a Migraine, say we have a “Migraine,” not a “headache.” There’s a difference. Migraines have other accompanying symptoms, and sometimes, they’re more debilitating than the headache. Sometimes, Migraines occur with no headache at all.
  • Keep learning about our Migraines. That lets us take better care of ourselves and explain Migraines to others when opportunities arise.
  • Wear purple, our awareness color. Decorate with it. Use it on our blogs, our Facebook pages and other places. Use it enough for people to ask us why we like purple so much, then explain.
  • If you have a Twitter account, watch for Tweets about Migraine and retweet them.
  • If you have a Facebook page, share links and information about Migraines on your Facebook page. You can also add a purple ribbon to your Facebook profile photo through PicBadges
  • If you blog about Migraines or another headache disorder, join the Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge In a blog challenge, there are prompts/topics set for each day of the month, and bloggers write on as many of them as they can during the month. Each day that we write on the assigned prompt, we go to the host blog and post the URL of our entry, then we all Tweet and help promote each other’s entries. Some of the prompts are serious, some are more fun. All will help make Migraines more visible. An important point to make here is that if you don’t have Migraines, but do have another headache disorder, you’re very welcome to participate. Just substitute your type of headache for the word Migraine.
  • We can also join the National Migraine Awareness Month Tweet Challenge. Join us in scheduling Migraine (or headache) related tweets every day throughout the month. has created a list of tweets they’ll be offering for anyone’s use throughout the month, including appropriate hash tags and mentions. The hash tag for these tweets is #NMAMTC. These tweets also make great status updates for Facebook or other social media platform. Simply copy and paste them into your status or tweet bar! If you notice someone is tweeting or mentioning Migraine or headache in June, help them out by retweeting or sharing their efforts with your followers and friends.

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