2 Things Every Chronic Migraine Sufferer Should be Checked for

This is one of those “I’m a chiropractor so this will be biased” articles. This bias is further accentuated by the fact that I’ve written a Migraines and Epilepsy book. This article describes that ONE thing that EVERY single headache sufferer needs to do, and yet rarely do.

I understand headaches very well. Migraines. Tension type headaches. Cervicogenic headaches. Sinus headaches. Unfortunately, many chronic headache sufferers actually experience many different types of headaches. Since most physicians have a single tool to use, they can only address a single type of headache at a time. This is why it seems like no treatment works—it’s rare that a single treatment that is going to help for more than one type of headache.

But there is a great place to start. It should absolutely begin in a chiropractor’s office. Why? (Other than my bias, of course…) Because the tension-type / cervicogenic headache is so extremely common and a chiropractor who also understands the soft tissues involved in these types of headaches is the ONLY type of provider who can address them.

In case you think I’m being a little biased, think for a second, what tools the typical primary care doctor, orthopedic doc or neurologist has to treat muscle problems. Note that I said “muscle problems” and not muscle spasms. True muscle spasms are pretty rare in these types of headaches. Injections do nothing to fix the problems and the medications may mask what’s really going on, but there just are not any medications that are designed to actually heal the soft tissue problems involved in these types of headaches.

One could argue that a well-qualified massage therapist can also address these soft tissue problems, and it is a strong argument. However, the other aspect that contributes to these headaches, improper movement of the joints at the very top of the neck, can only be addressed by a chiropractor.

So you can see that my bias does, in reality, have quite a bit of factual information to support it.

What does all of this have to do with this particular study? In this small study, researchers looked at 4 things in chronic migraine sufferers:

  1. Myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in the SCM and upper trap muscles
  2. Forward head posture (FHP)
  3. Neck range of motion (ROM)
  4. Cervical facet joint stiffness

As I’ve mentioned, these aspects are all well within the range of conditions that soft-tissue oriented chriopractors can treat very effectively.

So what did they find when they compared this group of chronic migraine sufferers to a similar group that did not experience headaches?? They did not find any difference in the neck range of motion nor in forward head posture. They did, however, note:

  • There was increased stiffness of the cervical facet joints stiffness at Occiput-C1 (top of the spine and the skull joint) as well as at C1-C2.
  • There were more active and latent MTrPs in the right trapezius and SCM muscles.

So, with this study and others that have come before it, I would ask the perpetually unanswered question—why do we not see referrals from neurologists and PCPs to chiropractors at least for the evaluation of whether or not these 2 findings are present?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.