Migraines & Cluster Headaches

There is a whole plethora of symptoms that may ensue if you experience a migraine. First, you might see spots or lines, or colored lights followed by redness, swelling, tearing, muscle contraction, hallucinations, irritability, depression, numbness, constipation, or diarrhea. These symptoms are only warning signs for what is to come – pain that can range from minor discomfort to immobilizing agony that can last anywhere from minutes to days. Typically, the pain occurs on only one side of the head along with nausea and vomiting. The classic migraine that affects millions of people, including children.1 The majority of sufferers are women.2 The migraine is different from the much smaller and more common tension headache. Migraines are much more severe in the sense that they usually involve the whole head, come on suddenly and only include nausea and vomiting if they are very severe. Cluster headache attacks come on abruptly, with intense throbbing pain high in one nostril and spreading behind the eye on that side of the face. These can occur up to several times a day in clusters lasting up to months. The strange part about cluster headaches is that they disappear as quick as they begin, and mostly affect men between 20-40 years old.

The treatment for a headache typically depends on what has presumably caused it. A headache caused by visual problems is often cured by eyeglasses. An infection headache of sinuses is relieved when the infection subsides. Hundreds of millions of dollars a year are spent on everything from aspirin and aspirin substitutes to codeine and prescription drugs. These provide relief from headaches; however, they do not correct the cause of prevent recurrence.

For over a century chiropractic’s natural, drug-free approach to health has been a blessing to migraine and cluster headache sufferers. Chiropractors are the only healthcare professionals trained to analyze and correct subluxations which are tiny distortions in your spine and structural system that affect your nerves, joints, discs, and internal organs, including your brain.  By correcting subluxations your body can restore itself to a greater level of health.

Using a combination of their hands, x-ray, scales, and other instruments, your chiropractor will determine if you have subluxations in your body. If you do, they will give you a chiropractic adjustment or correction to remove them.

Research reveals migraine sufferers have abnormal nerve firings in the brain and spinal cord.3 This may be why chiropractic helps so many migraine sufferers. A study of 6,000 people who suffered from recurring headaches for 2-25 years showed that spine injury was the more important factor in the cause of the headache and should be suspected in every case of recurring headache.4-5 There are many studies showing the benefits of the drug-free, natural healing approach of chiropractic for migraine sufferers.6-9

For example, in one study chiropractic care resulted in a reduction of 90% of migraine episodes with the length of each migraine reduced by 38%. In addition, medication dropped 94% and other symptoms associated with migraine such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia (light and sound sensitivity) were reduced.10

In a six-month study, half of 127 migraine sufferers were given chiropractic care while the other half were not. 22% of the chiropractic group reported more than 90% reduction in migraines after two months and about 50% in the group reported significant decline in severity of migraines.11

In one study, a 28-year-old woman with severe migraine headaches since she was a teenager as well as irregular menstrual cycles and inability to conceive began chiropractic care. Two months later she reported no headaches! A regular menstrual cycle began seven weeks into care and within six months she became pregnant.12

One 10-year-old girl with chronic, sever migraine (up to 6x a week for the past 3 years) was under treatment by a neurologist at a children’s hospital. She was unable to go to school. Chiropractic examination revealed upper neck subluxations. After five adjustments she was back in school and leading a normal and healthy life.13

Anyone suffering from a headache of any time would do well to see their chiropractor to ensure they are free of subluxations! If there are subluxations, no amount of medication or drug can fix that – only chiropractic care.


  1. Pakalnis A. New avenues in treatment of paediatric migraine: a review of the literature. Fam Prac. 2001;18(1):101-106.
  2. Stewart WF, Lipton RB, Celentano DD, Reed ML. Prevalence of migraine headache in the United States. JAMA. 1992;267:64-69.
  3. Neergaard L. Migraines are unique brain disorder. Associated Press. June 12, 2000.
  4. Braaf MM, Rosner SJ. Trauma of the cervical spine as cause of chronic headache. Trauma. 1975;15:441-446.
  5. Margulies S. The postconcussion syndrome after mild head trauma, part II: is migraine underdiagnosed? J Clin Neurosci. 2000;7(6):495-499.
  6. Ressel O, Rudy R. Vertebral subluxation correlated with somatic, visceral and immune complaints; an analysis of 650 children under chiropractic care. JVSR. October 18, 2004; 1-23.
  7. Simpson J, Hawken E. Xiphodynia: A diagnostic conundrum. Chiropractic & Osteopathy. 2007;15:13.
  8. Bogduk N. The anatomical basis for cervicogenic headache. JMPT. 1992;15(1):67-70.
  9. Kreeft J. Headache following whiplash. In Spine: State of the art reviews: Cervical Flexion-Extension/Whiplash Injuries. Sept 1993:395.
  10. Tuchin PJ. A case series of migraine changes following a manipulative therapy trial. Australian Chiropractic & Osteopathy. 1997;66(3):85-91.
  11. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. JMPT. 2000;23(2):91-95.
  12. Vilan R. The role of chiropractic care in the resolution of migraine headaches and infertility. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. 2004;6(1):338-341.
  13. Bofshever H. Encephalgia/migraine. ICPA Newsletter. Jan/Feb 2000.