A case study published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research on January 24, 2013 documents chiropractic helping a patient with migraine headaches. The study authors note that "Among children between the ages of 5-15 years, the prevalence of migraine headaches are at 10.6% while among those 15-19 years of age, it is as high as 28%."
According to the Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society, Migraine headaches usually are one sided affecting one half of the head and pulsating in nature, lasting from 2 to 72 hours. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound) and the pain is generally aggravated by physical activity. Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches perceive an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which signals that the headache will soon occur.
In this case a 16 year old girl went to the chiropractor, with the consent of her parents, suffering from migraine headaches without aura. Her history revealed that she had been suffering migraines since kindergarten, and with headaches for as long as she could remember. She described her headaches as a throbbing pain located in the frontal area, with these attacks occurring at a rate of 1-2 per week, and lasting approximately 2-3 hours per episode, occurring primarily at night. Since puberty her headaches seemed to have gotten worse. Over the years she had been prescribed approximately 15 different medications for her headaches.
A chiropractic examination and x-rays were performed. The examination showed postural abnormalities with the girl's head being tilted to one side, and the range of motion of her neck was restricted. Additional abnormal alignment findings were also noted from her examination. The specific x-rays taken showed spinal vertebrae in the upper neck being malpositioned, which were determined to be subluxations in her neck.
A specific plan of correction for the subluxations was begun. The study authors noted that the results were immediate. They recorded, "On the day following the patient's first visit, the patient reported noticing 'some' improvement in the intensity of her HA complaint. On her second visit and 5 days since her initial visit, the patient indicated no subjective complaints of headache that day."
Chiropractic checkups occurred regularly over a 5 year period to monitor the girls progress. The authors noted that, "According to the patient, her HA intensity being bearable without the need for medication and her headache attacks abated to approximately 2-4 migraines per month."