If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know that finding an effective treatment before it begins interfering with your life and responsibilities can be a nightmare.
The tell-tale symptoms of throbbing pain, loss of appetite due to nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light debilitate much of the population, and most likely a portion of your patients.
The number of people in America who experience migraines is staggering.1 According to the Migraine Research Foundation, approximately one in four U.S. households reports having an individual who gets migraines, and that equates to more than 10 percent of the population (including both adults and children).
Of these individuals, three times as many women as men get migraines (18 versus 6 percent). Unfortunately, migraines tend to strike adults most often between the ages of 25 and 55, in what should be their peak years of productivity. As a result, American employers lose billions of dollars each year due to lost work days.1
The chiropractic connection
In light of these numbers, it should be obvious to you as a chiropractor that this data represents a large proportion of individuals who might benefit from your care as an effective migraine treatment.
A number of research articles provide support for chiropractic spinal manipulation to treat migraines, as compared to more standard treatments such as pharmacotherapy.2
The majority of these articles do not specify the type of adjustment, as the main focus is on the entirety of chiropractic spinal manipulation compared to standard treatment. Even so, a few articles do compare the use of manual versus instrument adjusting in treating chronic migraines.
Several individual case reports discuss the use of instrument-assisted spinal manipulation for treating migraines. A meta-analysis of these articles adds strength to the findings. A 2012 article in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association examined the results of eight smaller studies to look for commonalities.3
The authors concluded that instrument adjustments “provided comparable clinically meaningful benefits to patients when compared to high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) manual manipulation or trigger point therapy.”
An earlier article from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics compared two groups of patients in treating the cervical spine, which is often the source of migraine headaches.4
One group received manual HVLA adjustments, while the other received instrument-assisted adjustments. At the end of eight treatments, the researchers concluded that instrument-assisted cervical spinal adjustments were just as beneficial as manual adjustments to improve dysfunction of the cervical spine, which can include migraines.
Patients who suffer from migraines may feel as though they will never find relief from their pain. Fortunately, not only can chiropractic in general be an effective, safe alternative to standard treatment, but instrument-assisted cervical adjustments may even be more beneficial than manual applications.
1 Migraine Research Foundation. “Migraine Fact Sheet.” http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/fact-sheet.html. Accessed May 18, 2015.
2 ChiroACCESS. “Chiropractic management of migraine headache.” http://www.chiroaccess.com/Articles/Chiropractic-Management-of-Migraine-Headache.aspx?id=0000243 Published February 15, 2011. Accessed May 18, 2015.
3 Huggins T, Boras AL, Gleberzon BJ, et al. Clinical effectiveness of the activator adjusting instrument in the management of musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review of the literature. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2012;56(1):49-57.
4 Wood TG, Colloca CJ, Matthews R. A pilot randomized clinical trial on the relative effect of instrumental (MFMA) versus manual (HVLA) manipulation in the treatment of cervical spine dysfunction. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001;24(4):260-71.