Proof that chiropractic treatment helps migraine sufferers

Seventy-two per cent of migraine sufferers in a clinical trial experienced either ‘substantial’ or ‘noticeable’ improvement after a period of chiropractic treatment, defying historical skepticism of chiropractics by some medical practitioners.

The randomised clinical trial was undertaken by Dr Peter Tuchin, a chiropractor for the past 20 years, as part of his recently-completed PhD thesis at Macquarie University.

“Around 22 per cent [of patients] had substantial reduction – which means that more than 60 percent of their symptoms reduced during the course of the treatment,” Tuchin says. “What makes this a really strong result is that this was a really chronic group – the average length of time they’d had migraines was 18 years. To get a change of that sort of magnitude in a really chronic group was quite amazing.

“Another 50 per cent had quite noticeable improvement. They either found that the frequency of the migraines was less, the length of time they had them was less or that they didn’t need to use their medications as much. This last result is very significant because some of the migraine medications are very strong drugs which have lots of side effects. Some of the migraine medications also have the problem of giving instant relief to the migraine, but creating another ‘rebound migraine’ the next day.”

The trial used 123 migraine sufferers, whittled down from around 1000 who applied after seeing a television program about the research. This group was divided into a treatment group who received chiropractic care, and a control group who were told they were receiving a form of electrical physical therapy.

“Both groups kept a record of their migraines for the whole six months, noting down how often they got them, how severe they were, how long they lasted, and if there was anything they could think of that contributed to them,” Tuchin explains. “For two months prior to any treatment they just diarised their migraines, followed by two months of treatment and then two months of post-treatment.”

Despite this study, some medical practitioners still dispute the ability of chiropractic care to help migraine sufferers. However, Tuchin believes this is a fast-diminishing group.

“I think the vast majority of medical practitioners are now open to chiropractic, but there’s a very small percentage who don’t realise what developments we’ve had, what inroads we’ve made,” Tuchin says.

“Chiropractic is not the be all and end all, but for a good percentage of migraine sufferers the neck is a significant contributing factor, and for them chiropractic treatment is really effective. I’m not saying that everybody’s going to be cured, but there’s very little to lose.”

May 23-29 is National Chiropractic Care Week. This year the theme is safe drugfree treatment of headaches. It is estimated that 10 to 12 percent of the Australian population suffer from migraines which costs the country $1.5 billion each year.

 

Chiropractic and Migraine

Although migraine attacks affect a significant number of people the triggering processes for the headaches are not fully understood.

 

Changes in the function of the blood or nervous systems in specific areas of the brain and changes in chemical balances within the body have been related to the cause of migraine attacks.

So, it is interesting that chiropractic treatment has beenshown to be effective for migraine sufferers.

Migraines are normally divided up into two different typesalthough many more subdivisions exist. These two main categories are ‘common’ and ‘classic’ migraine.

The pain of the headache is normally one sided covering half of the forehead and one eye however pain can also spread from the back of the head over to the eye or in some cases be located over both eyes.

Sensations described include, throbbing, pulsing and stabbing pains.

This is the most common type of migraine accounting for 80-85% of attacks. Research indicates that a change in cerebral blood flow could be responsible for the symptoms of this headache.
Common Migraine

It normally involves:

  • a unilateral pulsing headache
  • more commonly in females
  • is usually found to have started in young adulthood
  • headaches are usually severe although sufferers are able to carry on with their daily activities
  • there is often associated nausea and vomiting.

Classic Migraine

This type of migraine accounts for about 10-15% of attacks with the typical throbbing unilateral headache as in a common migraine, but is preceded by what is known as ‘aura’ or ‘prodrome’. This describes symptoms experienced prior to the onset of the throbbing headache such as:

  • visual symptoms such as flashing lights (scintillation)
  • the presence of a blind spot (scotoma).

This usually lasts up to 30 minutes after which it is replaced by a disabling headache that can last for a few hours to 3 days.

  • Nausea and vomiting may occur.
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights) is common and bright lights can also provoke the pain.
  • Rest in a cool dark and quiet room is often reported to be the only relieving factor.

Again, the cause of these headaches are not fully understood but are thought to be related to the changes in blood flow, the presence of certain chemicals and the way in which nerves send signals.

If you want to read more about other types of migraine go to Chiropractic and migraine variants.

Triggers

Many triggers have been related to the onset of a migraine attack some of the more common are listed below:

  • after periods of stress (commonly occurs on over the week end or holidays)
  • Foods (commonly; chocolate, caffeine, nitrates, cheese, nuts, wine and many more)
  • Some medications (including vasodilators)
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Hormonal changes (associations with the menstrual cycle)
  • Tension in the neck (especially the upper part of the neck)

But it is important to know that in reality, for many people, the symptoms are a mixture of more than one type of headache. Many specialists, including chiropractors, now talk about a headache continuum, where the, severely disabling, classical migraine is at one end ranging to the, less disabling, mild tension headache at the other end.

Treating Migraine

 

Identification of a specific trigger is essential in the management of the problem in a regular sufferer, with behavioural or lifestyle changes playing an important part in the treatment (e.g. avoidance of certain foods or maintenance of a regular sleep pattern).

Nutritional and herbal support have indicated that the use of supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D among others useful in the treatment of migraine. However always consult your chiropractor or doctor before beginning any supplements.

Medications can be of use in some cases but are mainly prophylactic. Initially over the counter medications can be used but if persistent your GP may advise the use of prescription drugs.

Acupuncture treatment has also been shown to help in some cases among other alternative techniques.

Chiropractic has been shown to help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks in many cases, especially cases of common migraines, and we therefore recommend that you undergo a trial treatment.

Chiropractic treatment also deal with many contributory factors or after effects including relieve of restriction in movement of the neck, muscle tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders and helping correct any postural issues that may influence the occurrence of both migraine and tension headaches.

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10 Simple Exercises to Restore Balance and Eliminate Neck and Back Pain

You do your best to get results from your workouts… you eat well, you train hard and yet you still feel like you’re falling short of hitting your peak.

Low energy, grogginess, shortage of breath and neck and back pain are just some of the problems you may be suffering from. But why? How does a perfectly healthy, athletic individual who eats well and trains hard STILL suffer?

Let me explain… there’s a problem which no less than 90% of the US population suffers from.

It’s a problem that nobody is tackling, that doctors are failing to diagnose and which poses just as many health risks as obesity…

… and you’re probably suffering from it, too.

It affects nearly everyone, no matter what your age or level of fitness. It’s a problem that originates in just one area of your body but affects your overall health, including your mental as well as your physical state.

And the craziest thing is, you probably see
this problem EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It’s forward head posture… also known as texting neck.

You’ve probably seen it yourself, in those guys and girls who are physically active but walk around with a chicken head or giraffe neck.

Instead of a powerful, strong chest, their shoulders are hunched forward, their head droops down and their curved back almost gives them a hump.

It looks weak, unhealthy and unsightly. And it undoes all their hard work.

Your neck is designed to remain vertical, supporting the weight of your skull in a perfect line from the top of your head straight down through your body to your feet.

When you look at yourself in the mirror from the side, your ear, your shoulder and your hips should all be in a straight line down to the floor. If it is unaligned and your ear is in front of your shoulders, it’s a sure sign of forward head posture.

You see, the average head weighs 10-12lbs. When your head sits perfectly upon your neck and shoulders, the body naturally adapts to holding this weight.

But if your head is constantly pulled forward, the weight of your head pulls on your neck and puts pressure on your spine.

When your head is pulled forward the additional pressure on your neck, shoulders and back rises dramatically causing serious tissue damage. In fact, every inch your head is thrust forward from its natural position adds another 10 lbs of stress on the neck, shoulders, back and spine.

It’s why you may have developed that ugly ‘hump’ below your neck; to combat the stress of holding your head up, the body’s reaction has been to build-up bone and fat tissue to compensate and protect the spine at the C7 vertebrae.

Forward head posture doesn’t just leave you looking awkward… No matter how hard you train or how well you eat, unless you start fixing your head posture right now, it may not be possible to reverse the damage already done.

Before I explain why your posture could be killing you, let me introduce myself.

Coach Mike WesterdalMy name is Mike Westerdal and I’m a national best-selling fitness author, sports nutrition specialist, personal trainer, Iron Man magazine contributor and founder of the internet’s longest-standing strength site, CriticalBench.com

Shortly, I’ll explain to you how it’s possible to fix your forward head posture using just 10 really simple movements that instantly improve your posture and increase your strength, energy and vitality.

But first, let me show you the many ways forward head posture is damaging your health and holding you back.

Although few realize they have a posture problem, fewer still realize how many problems are caused by Forward Head Posture.

The most obvious concern is the physical appearance….

YOUR POOR HEAD POSTURE IS MAKING YOU LOOK 10 LBS HEAVIER AND 2 INCHES SHORTER THAN YOU ACTUALLY ARE

As the main connector between your upper torso and skull, the neck has the crucial task of cradling the body’s computer — the brain.

When I personally discovered that I suffered from Forward Head Posture, I was shocked at the impact it had on my health. The number of symptoms I could directly trace back to poor posture was just as shocking.

Not only does Forward Head Posture give your back that ugly hunch and crouched-over look… it also causes much deeper, serious problems including:

  • Constant fatigue and lack of energy
  • Pain in your neck, shoulders or upper, lower and middle back
  • Permanent damage to your joints, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels & nerves
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Impaired athletic performance
  • Loss of height by 2 inches
  • Looking 10 lbs fatter than you actually are
  • Affects your hormonal health
  • Noisy mouth breathing, snoring & sleep apnea
  • Early degeneration of your spine
  • Pinched and trapped nerves
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Lack of confidence
  • Blood Flow to the Brain
  • Asthma
  • Decreased lung capacity by up to 30%
  • Harmful affects to vision and hearing
  • Jaw pain and sinus issues
  • Dizziness, vertigo and balance issues
  • Burdens your digestive system

If you’ve suffered any of these without realizing the root problem was Forward Head Posture, you’re not alone.

Forward Head Posture or FHP affects nearly everybody, yet hardly anyone understands the serious long-term physical and mental damage it can cause.

And it’s the most important muscle in your neck that dictates just how strong and healthy our posture and well-being is.

Tennis and Chiropractic

To become as good a tennis player as Andy Murray take many years of dedicated practice and with years and years of practice increases the risk of accumulated injuries.

With Wimbledon comes an upsurge of interest in tennis,we offer some invaluable advice on staying injury free this tennis season.

For two weeks at the end of June, a certain ‘fever’ tends to sweep the country, this being ‘tennis fever’. Tennis is the second most played racket sport in the UK, close to overtaking badminton in popularity, with an estimated 860,000 people playing.

Bedford Chiropractic Clinic will  see an increase in tennis related injuries. Just the same thing happens every year  in the tennis season but with Andy Murray winning even more people will try tennis for the first time.

Playing tennis is a great way to stay physically fit but it requires a variety of physical attributes, including power, endurance, speed, strength, balance, and of course specific playing skills. Compared to other sports, the risk of injury from playing tennis is relatively low, but there are certain factors that increase the risk of an injury that apply to both competitive and social players:

  • Incorrect technique – poor serve and swing technique will increase the chance of injury, particularly to the elbow and wrist. Relying on only the arm to hit the ball, as opposed to the body’s full strength, leads to an incorrect swinging action. A healthy spine able to flex and absorb these heavy twisting loads the discs in the spine can suffer serious injury that can impact everyday life not just sporting ability.
  • Failure to warm up and cool down – warming up / cooling down reduces the risk of muscle and joint injuries, and improves performance.
  • Time spent playing – overexertion is one of the most common causes of injury, and with insufficient rest and recovery time for the body, overuse injuries are more likely to occur.
  • Previous injury – previous injury can lead to similar injuries in the future, especially if you hadn’t taken enough time to fully recover.

When it comes to tennis injuries, they fall into one of two categories; two-thirds of tennis injuries are due to overuse, and the other one-third due to trauma or an acute event such as sudden force or impact. Cumulative, or overuse, injuries most often affect the shoulders, elbows and wrists, with acute injuries affecting the low back, knee or ankle.

Tennis Elbow – the most well-known of all tennis injuries, it is estimated that over 50% of players will suffer with it at some point in their career. It is an overuse injury of the muscles that bend the wrist backwards, from repeated contraction, and can also be caused by improper technique, such as using too much wrist and not enough arm when you hit a backhand shot (faulty backhand follow-through).

Tennis Shoulder – shoulder overuse injuries are usually a result of poor conditioning and strength of the rotatory cuff muscles, a group of muscles at the back of the shoulder. These muscles help to position the shoulder correctly in the socket, and a weakness can cause an increase in ‘play’ of the ball in the socket, irritating the tissues. Tennis shoulder injuries often appear after over-loading the rotator cuff when the muscles are contracting, and are usually caused during the follow-through phase of the serve. These injuries cause pain when the ball makes contact with the racquet during the serve, and cause a decrease in serve velocity.

Tennis Ankle – these injuries fall into the traumatic/acute bracket and are caused by a sudden sideways movement, such as pivoting while making a subtle but rapid change in direction, resulting in twisting or turning the ankle inwards. Playing on a slippery wet surface increases the risk of these types of injuries, as does continuing to play, even when fatigue is overwhelming you.

Low back pain – many tennis players will suffer with low back pain at one time or another. It can be caused by the twisting/rotating movement when trying to hit the ball, the sudden deceleration and changes in direction during a game, or over-extending the back during the serve; this repetitive action places considerable stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the spine, and on the spinal joints themselves. Any accumulation of injury to the discs must be avoided at all times as the discs do not have a blood supply and cannot heal very well. All too often this fact is ignored and the damage accumulated becomes too extensive and permanent disability is the result. Just taking painkillers and waiting for such injuries to heal is a recipe for disaster.

What is a Stress Fracture of the Back?

A stress fracture of the back, or lumbar spine, is one of the more common bone injuries in young tennis players. Lower back stress fractures are usually characterized by an ache in the lower back which is exacerbated by sporting activities and eased by rest, although a small percentage of people with a stress fracture can be pain free. Typically it is sore when the patient bends backwards, particularly if standing on one leg. If a lower back stress fracture is suspected, a chiropractor may decide to refer the patient for a MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis.

What can you do to prevent a Stress Fracture?

Serving in tennis requires a combination of spinal hyper extension (bending back) together with rotation and side bending of the trunk. This puts a lot of stress on an area of the vertebra called the Pars Interarticularis and this is where stress fracture develops.

Practicing the service should be carefully monitored by the coach to ensure the lower back is not being overloaded. This is particulary important in adolescent players who have just experienced a growth spurt as they are known to be more at risk from this injury.

core stability exercises can help prevent back problems in tennis players.

What should you do if you suffer a Stress Fracture of the Back?

In most cases, complete rest from tennis is the treatment of choice. This would usually be for a period of 6 weeks to allow the bone to heal. In the early stages, a soothing ice pack can reduce back pain and alleviate back pain. During this period, a progressive exercise programme may commence, under the supervision of a qualified chiropractor. This usually starts with exercises to increase the muscular stability in the lower back.

Research has shown that a lack of muscular stability in the lumbar and pelvic regions can lead to low back pain and stress fractures. The principle behind this is that if certain specific muscles can be recruited or contracted, the spine will have much better support. This prevents postural faults which can predispose a person to back pain.

Spine injuries common in young tennis players

Elite tennis players in their teens appear to have a very high rate of lower spine injury, a 2007  study suggests. Although the subjects in this study did not have symptoms, the researchers point out that these injuries will probably progress to more serious conditions if training techniques are not modified. As with common back problems because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean that a problem doesn’t exit.

The British researchers found that of 33 elite-level tennis players they examined, 85 percent had some sort of abnormality in the lower spine. Damage to the joints at the back of the spine, stress fractures and herniated discs were among the problems seen on MRI scans.

Tennis players’ careers depend largely on how well they perform at the junior level, the study authors note in their report, published online by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

This means that during their growth spurt years, young athletes are going through frequent and intense training that can raise their risk of injury.

Tennis involves constant spinal movements — like quick twists and backward arching — that can account for the injuries seen in this study, according to the authors, led by Dr. David Connell of the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital.

The findings are based on 18 male and 15 female athletes training at a UK national tennis center. None complained of any back pain, but using MRI scans, Connell’s team found that only five players had normal exam results.

The most common abnormality was facet joint arthropathy, damage to joints at the back of the spine that are involved in backward arching. A full 70 percent of the players showed this problem; in contrast, studies of middle-aged adults in the general population have found that 8 percent to 21 percent of symptom-free people have facet joint arthropathy, demonstrating that spinal wear and tear is not painful until we then overload already weakened joints.

In addition, the researchers found, more than one quarter of the players had sustained stress fractures in bone structures at the back of the spine, while nearly 40 percent had herniated spinal discs.

It’s important to spot such abnormalities, they conclude, so that training can be modified to prevent the problem from worsening.

SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, July 19, 2007 online.

When looking at ways to help avoid tennis injuries, we can split it into 5 key areas:

Environment:

  • avoid playing on hard surface courts with no ‘give’, such as cement, asphalt or synthetic courts.
  • inspect the court for holes/cracks that may trip you up.
  • ensure the court is well lit if playing at night.
  • avoid playing in extreme weather conditions.
  • never play on a wet court.
  • clean off leaves, debris, loose balls etc. from the court.

Dress:

  • wear shoes specifically designed for tennis that support the heel and prevent ankle rolling, choose tennis shoes with skid-resistant soles and high arch supports.
  • consider wearing heel inserts or specially padded tennis socks to absorb the shock when playing on hard services to protect the lower back.

Equipment:

  • see a professional to select a racquet that is the appropriate size and weight, and one that suits your skill level; too light or heavy will increase the risk of shoulder/elbow injuries.
  • a flexible racquet with a larger head is gentler on the arm as the flexion absorbs some of the shock, spreading it over a longer period; this helps to prevent a tennis elbow injury.
  • low string tension is better on the arm as it increases the dwell time of the ball on the strings.
  • thinner strings are more elastic and have better shock-absorbing capacities, making them better for the arm.
  • a grip that is too small or large will increase the risk of an elbow injury as the player has to grip the racquet too tightly to prevent it from twisting.
  • never play with wet tennis balls, especially if you have had a previous shoulder/arm injury.
  • avoid old or low-pressure balls; aim to replace them as soon as they start to lose their bounce.

Preparation:

  • working on stretching and toning your arm muscles off the court will guard against injury; swimming is a good way to achieve this.
  • warm up gently, increase your heart rate with a slow jog or jumping jacks.
  • slowly stretch muscles to improve joint range of motion, and promote elasticity in the ligaments and tendons; hold stretches for 30 seconds.
  • start slowly, hitting a few balls to your opponent; serve several times until the shoulder feels looser.
  • be sure to cool down with stretches after playing to prevent stiff and sore muscles and joints.

Technique:

  • take lessons from a qualified coach to develop skills and technique.
  • when serving/hitting overhead, avoid over-arching the lower back; bend your knees and raise your heels instead, so the upper body weight is evenly balanced.
  • avoid landing on the ball of the foot as this can lead to an Achilles’ tendon injury.
  • hitting the ball in front of the body makes it easier to fully use the shoulder and trunk.
  • forearm muscles are better able to handle the shock if the wrist is held straight when the ball impacts the racquet.
  • use the forearm for control, and the shoulder/trunk for strength.
  • use the other arm for balance with one-handed backhand.
  • in the event of a previous injury or weakness to the elbow, try a two-handed backhand. If you sustain an injury on the tennis court, the best plan of action is to stop playing and seek the appropriate advice and treatment.
  • Chiropractors, whilst best known for treating spinal injuries, are also trained in treating all of the other joints of the body, including the shoulder, elbow and wrist. If you get gripped with tennis fever, and even with following these hints and tips, you still sustain an injury of your muscles, bones or joints, chiropractic may have the answer.