"Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It is instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.


Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London; Director, NIHR-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, King’s College Hospital London; Trustee of The Migraine Trust.

What is Migraine?

Migraine attacks can be very frightening, and symptoms vary from person to person, individuals can even have different symptoms during different attacks.  Attacks can differ in length and frequency, but they usually last between 4 to 72 hours, and most people are free from symptoms in between episodes.


For many people the main feature is often a one sided painful headache. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to: Disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, or feeling sick and vomiting.


Always rule out any other disorder or something more serious as being the cause of your pain before reaching the diagnosis of migraine.

What Causes Migraine

Migraine was once believed to be vascular, but it is now apparent that there is a neurological element to triggering these debilitating headaches. There are also a wide variety of triggers for migraine, although some are genetically predisposed.

Common triggers include: 

  • Stress
  • Lack of food
  • Alcohol
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Food triggers i.e. dairy, gluten, chocolate, coffee
  • Change of weather

Different Types of Migraine

Migraine without aura (common migraine), no visual or neurological symptoms

Two of the following:

  • One sided location
  • Pulsing quality
  • Moderate to severe pain intensity
  • Aggravated by, or causing avoidance of routine physical activity i.e. walking
  • Either photophobia & phonophobia (light & sound), or nausea/vomiting

Migraine with Aura (Classic Migraine) - approximately 10-15% of all migraines.


Headache symptoms as above plus:

  • Aura consisting of either fully reversible; visual disturbances, sensory symptoms, or speech disturbances.

The ‘migraine with aura’ label is also used for some of the rarer forms of migraine. If the aura is the most prominent symptom, or outlasts the headache, it is referred to as a complicated migraine, which can be further categorised to include; Opthalmoplegic, Basilar, and, Familial hemiplegic migraine.


For the full classifications of Headaches and migraines visit the ICHD website:


What is the Treatment?

The complex nature of migraine means that the treatments available are varied and differ from person to person. There is currently no cure for migraine, and medication may depend on the triggers.


Chiropractic treatment for migraine is also varied but a trial treatment of 3-4 sessions will give you a good indicator of how effective management will be. A lot of our patients have found their migraines become less frequent and less severe with treatment when neck muscle or joint tension and restriction is a contributing trigger. Treatment can involve:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Acupuncture/dry needling
  • Spinal manipulation/mobilisation
  • Home exercises/stretches
  • Ergonomic and postural advice

Other treatments that might help with headaches available at TWC:

  • Hypnotherapy for stress management and to help reduce related tension
  • Deep tissue massage to help release trigger points in the muscles
  • Diet advice for food intolerances/allergies i.e. gluten or dairy

This is a website that lists some of the studies looking in to the effectiveness of chiropractic in the treatment of migraines:



Information cited from, and for more in depth information on migraine visit:




As with any new symptoms it is always important to visit your GP or chiropractor to rule out any other disorders before reaching a diagnosis yourself.

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