Chiropractic and Migraine Headaches

In my practice I see people in pain on a daily basis. Some walk-in with ice packs, walkers, back braces, wheelchairs, and etc. But as far as severity, no pain comes close to a full blown migraine headache. Such patients walk into my practice usually very medicated, with dark sunglasses on due to photophobia, a bucket or a bag for vomiting, and almost always accompanied by a friend or a spouse. This is a snapshot of a migraine patient.

The good news is that over 90% of our migraine patients feel immediate relief after their first visit. It usually takes us less than 10 minutes to clear over 60-70% of the headache.  Hard to believe! Let me make it more interesting: almost all of these patients become migraine-free when they go through the corrective treatment. What is the corrective treatment and why does it work?

It was 1988. I was 21 years old, studying neurophysiology at Palmer-West Chiropractic College. Out of pure coincidence I did some research on migraine headaches. Just by way of simple anatomy, I realized that there was a clear connection between the C1 and C2 cervical nerves and a certain nerve bundle in the brain that are linked to migraine headaches.  My interest peaked and I continued to enrich my spinal adjustment techniques using different methods that improved upper cervical correction. The breakthrough happened when I met a well known Sacro-Occipital Technique teacher named Dr. Roy Skidmore, who passed away in September of 2001. It was through merging the Palmer Diversified Technique and the Sacro-Occipital Technique that our clinic has been able to produce amazing results with different types of headaches including migraine. A usual headache examination consists of:


  1. Full history evaluation of the patient
  2. History of previous spinal traumas
  3. Hereditary issues
  4. Evaluation of the patient’s work and home ergonomics
  5. Full spinal evaluation of the patient
  6. A dietary analysis of the patient
  7. Computer scan of the spinal nerves
  8. Thermography analysis of the spinal muscles
  9. Complete x-ray evaluation of the patient’s cervical spine


After the evaluation is completed, the patient is set for the report of finding visit, which takes about 45 minutes and introduces to the adjustment plan and lifestyle changes required for maximum improvement. Time wise, an average migraine adjustment visit is at least twice as long as other appointments at our office. These treatments are usually formulated and tailored specifically to the needs of the patients according to their spinal problems.

Results vary, but the majority of migraine patients feel significant improvements in about 4-6 weeks, and begin to see a decrease in the frequency and intensity of the headaches. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a patient free from the fangs of migraine headaches. The experience is usually emotionally overwhelming and causes other members of the family and friends to become chiropractic patients as well.


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