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Migraine Headaches: Decreasing their frequency without drugs using chiropractic procedures.

Migraines are extremely painful, recurring headaches that are sometimes accompanied by other symptoms such as visual disturbances — seeing an aura — or nausea. There are two types of migraine — migraine with aura, formerly called common migraines, and migraine without aura, formerly called classic migraines. If you have a migraine with aura, you may see things such as stars or zigzag lines or have a temporary blind spot about 30 minutes before the headache starts. Even if you don’t experience an aura, you may have other warning signs in the period before the headaches starts, such as a craving for sweets, thirst, sleepiness, or depression.

Researchers aren’t sure what causes a migraine, although they know it involves changes in the blood flow in the brain. At first, blood vessels narrow or constrict, reducing blood flow and leading to visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, weakness, numbness, or tingling sensation in one area of the body, or other similar symptoms. Later, the blood vessels dilate or enlarge, leading to increased blood flow and a severe headache.

Some causes of migraines include: alcohol, certain foods, such as aged cheeses, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, some fruits (like avocado, banana, and citrus), foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), onions, dairy products, meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats) fermented or pickled foods,skipping meals, crying, fluctuations in hormones, certain odors, such as perfume or smoke, bright lights. loud noises, stress, sleeping too little or too much, caffeine, smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke, some medications, heat, high humidity, and high altitude.

Several clinical trials indicate that spinal manipulation therapy is helpful in treating migraine headaches.  Many people report a decrease in the intensity and frequency of their episodes with regular chiropractic care.  In one study of people with migraines, 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of attacks. Also, 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine. In another study, people with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects.

Using an elimination diet in combination with conservative chiropractic care seems to be a win win for many patients.

Posted: 4/17/14

By: Dr. Robert Wagner, DC

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University of Maryland Medical Center

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