Chiropractic and Migraines

Migraine headaches are a mysterious condition that leave people debilitated and in shambles. People who suffer from migraines are often left searching for solutions to the underlying cause of their headaches. In this fourth and final blog of our migraine series, we will explain how chiropractic can be a solution to the underlying problem in the vast majority of migraine cases.

The Anatomy 

Before you can understand how chiropractic can help with migraines, you first need to understand the anatomy of the upper neck. The upper neck is formed by three bones. These include the base of your skull, called the occipital bone, the C1 vertebra, which is the first bone in your neck, and the C2 vertebra, which is the second bone in your neck. These bones surround and protect the lower portion of the brainstem. In addition, a major source of blood supply to the brain, called the vertebral artery, also passes through this area.


When the bones in our upper neck become misaligned, it is very deleterious for our bodies. A misalignment in the spine, also known as a subluxation, can occur when our bodies are unable to handle environmental stressors. These stressors can be physical, chemical, or emotional traumas that our body experiences. Migraines, among a host of other issues, often occur with a serious subluxation in our upper neck because the nerve fibers and vasculature that runs through this area are very delicate.

How Chiropractic Helps

Chiropractors work to remove subluxations by restoring natural alignment in the spine. The first step for your chiropractor is to assess this area in detail by obtaining X-rays of your spine.  This allows a chiropractor to understand if it is possible to make corrections to the area and take pressure off of the brain stem, spinal cord, and delicate nerves.  If subluxation in the upper neck is present, the next step is for your chiropractor to make very specific adjustments to the top bones in your neck. These adjustments are very gentle and can be done by hand or with instrument. There is now proven research that migraine sufferers who get adjusted regularly report having a decrease in both frequency and severity of their migraines 1,2 . How long it may take before you start to see results is dependent on how long your subluxations have been developing. Chiropractic, in combination with the advice given in the previous blogs in this series, offers a comprehensive and natural approach to ending your migraine headaches once and for all.

1. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23(2):91-95. 2. Bronfort G, Assendelft WJ, Evans R, Haas M, Bouter L. Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001;24(7):457-466.

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    Dr. Sheena grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and completed her undergraduate studies in Architecture, Chemistry, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.