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A unique approach for migraine headaches

By Staff | Sep 12, 2019

People living with migraine headaches are familiar with the classic symptoms of intense, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks range between four and 72 hours, during which many sufferers sequester themselves in a quiet, dark room until the attack passes. The large majority of migraine patients are unable to work, attend school or function normally during their attacks.

While migraine headaches can be triggered by a number of factors, including stress, excessive light or sound, fatigue, hunger, food sensitivities, hormonal fluctuation, weather changes, caffeine or cigarette smoke, it is important to understand that these “trigger factors” do not cause migraine headaches.

One causal factor, which is beginning to appear more frequently in medical research, is head and/or neck trauma. Examples include blows to the head, whiplash and/or concussion sustained as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and through high-impact sports such as football, surfing, soccer, gymnastics and horseback riding. It is thought that trauma to the alignment of the skull and upper neck bones (C1 and C2 vertebrae) alters nerve and blood flow in the brainstem, leading to migraine headaches. Unless the neck injury is addressed, the headaches persist.

Fortunately, a rare chiropractic technique that focuses upon head and neck injuries – known as upper cervical care – has shown promise for migraine headache patients. In order to determine whether a headache patient may benefit from care, the upper cervical chiropractor will perform two diagnostic tests – thermal imaging and digital X-rays of the spine – which accurately assess the alignment of an individual’s head and neck. If an upper cervical misalignment is diagnosed, the patient’s injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially-designed knee chest table. Many migraine headache patients notice improvement in symptoms with just a few treatments.

With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has successfully treated over 300 patients with chronic headaches, including migraine, cluster and tension. Her published headache research is available on her website, www.erinelster.com. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or erin@erinelster.com.