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 migraines -- migraines with aura, formerly called common migraines, and migraines without aura, formerly called classic migraines.
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.
Several clinical trials indicate that chiropractic adjustments may help treat migraine headaches. In one study of people with migraines, 22% of those who received chiropractic adjustments 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 adjustment, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal adjustments worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects. Combining the two therapies didn't work any better.
In addition, researchers reviewed 9 studies that tested chiropractic for tension or migraine headaches and found that it worked as well as medications in preventing these headaches.