Does your headache stop you from working or doing routine daily activities? Do you have to lie down in a dark room with the lights off when your headache comes on? If this sounds like you, then you may suffer from migraines.

What is a migraine?

A migraine is more than just a headache. It is a complex condition that encompasses a wide variety of symptoms. For most people, the dominant feature is a painful headache that is typically one-sided, pulsating, and is of moderate to severe intensity. Although migraines can present with many different symptoms, including disturbed vision, nausea, vomiting, and light, sound or smell sensitivity (1, 2).

Migraines typically last 4-72 hours and when a migraine comes on it can have an enormous impact on a persons work, family and social lives.

What causes migraines?

Whilst migraine treatment has come a long way in the past 30 years, there is still no known cause for migraine. Most people who suffer from migraines are genetically predisposed to it; with up to 90% of migraine suffers having a positive family history. Many migraine suffers have similar migraine triggers which can include lack of sleep, lack of food, increased stress levels, alcohol and a change in environment.

Types of migraines

The two most common types of migraines are those with aura and those without aura. Migraines with aura either have nausea and/or vomiting or photophobia (light sensitivity)/phonophobia (noise sensitivity).

There are two types of migraine severity- Chronic migraine having more than 15 migraines a month for more than 3 months.- Episodic migraine less frequent than chronic.

However not everyone with the typical migraine and your migraine may present differently.

Is it a headache or is it a migraine?

Differentiating between different types of headaches can be difficult. People experience different types of headaches at different times of their lives for various reasons. For example people who suffer from cervicogenic headaches can also suffer from migraine headaches. Consulting a health care professional is the best start to finding out what type of headache you may be suffering from. Keeping a headache diary that tracks the frequency, intensity, severity and duration of your headache can be a great help when diagnosing your headache.

Migraine treatment

Due to the complex nature of a migraine, there are many different treatments available. Different people find certain treatments achieve better results when compared with others. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for migraine.

Pharmacological treatment this can be broken down into pain-relieving and preventative medications

  • Pain-relieving medications for treatment of an acute migraine attack and are designed to stop the symptoms. This is taken when a person has a migraine or feels the migraine coming on (prodome). They include Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) such as Aspirin or ibuprofen and paracetamol.
  • Preventative treatment these drugs are taken on a regular basis (often daily) in order to help reduce the severity and/or frequency of migraines. They include beta-blockers and certain types of anti epileptics antidepressants.
  • In cases of chronic migraine, Botox injections have been show to have mild to moderate effect. Botox is injected once every 12 weeks (3).

You should always consult your General Practitioner or Pharmacist before taking a new drug.

Chiropractic treatment

  • Migraines are often associated with upper neck and upper back dysfunctions. Joint restrictions and trigger points (knots) through the surrounding muscular can lead to the development of a migraine. Chiropractic treatment can help migraine suffers through treating these dysfunctions, which allows the neck and back to move freely and in turn has been shown to decrease migraine frequency, intensity, duration and severity (4-7).

If you have any questions on migraines or how chiropractic can help you give the clinic a call on (02) 99226116 or visit our clinic on the Ground Floor Suite 6, 157 Walker Street North Sydney for more information.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.


  1. Chaibi A, Saltyte Benth J, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine: a study protocol of a single-blinded placebo-controlled randomised clinical trial. BMJ open. 2015;5(11):e008095.
  2. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache. 2013;33(9):629-808.
  3. Khalil M, Zafar HW, Quarshie V, Ahmed F. Prospective analysis of the use of OnabotulinumtoxinA (BOTOX) in the treatment of chronic migraine; real-life data in 254 patients from Hull, U.K. The journal of headache and pain. 2014;15:54.
  4. Tali D, Menahem I, Vered E, Kalichman L. Upper cervical mobility, posture and myofascial trigger points in subjects with episodic migraine: Case-control study. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2014;18(4):569-75.
  5. Ghanbari A, Askarzadeh S, Petramfar P, Mohamadi M. Migraine responds better to a combination of medical therapy and trigger point management than routine medical therapy alone. NeuroRehabilitation. 2015;37(1):157-63.
  6. Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. The journal of headache and pain. 2011;12(2):127-33.
  7. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23(2):91-5.