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.


  1. Desiree Desiree United States says:

    I've been a migraine sufferer for about half of my life. They got bad enough at some points to be debilitating on a personal and professional level, I had to call out of work on more than one occasion. I've even had to leave work due to sudden onset of one. My neurologist was no help, he insisted on prescribing me drugs for things that had nothing to do with migraines despite my insistence that I couldn't physically handle the dosage he was prescribing (little to no tolerance) and a complete lack of tests of ANY type by him. At my wits end and having to stop taking the drugs the neuro gave me due to developing a permanent cold feeling and near perpetual light-headedness and dizziness I contacted my primary care doctor with a theory. Acting on my theory he sent me to a chiropractor he'd worked with in the past whom I shall call Dr N. My first visit with Dr N went smoothly, he touched my neck and upper back gently and then sent me for x-rays wanting to rule out arthritis due to how locked up my neck was. Thankfully it came back negative and we progressed straight into treatment. After just one round tension in muscles I wasn't even aware of started to evaporate. Second treatment and nary a twinge and I have a range of motion with my head and neck I haven't had since kindergarten! And even better not a single twinge of a headache! Even with a desk job that often has me hunched over a computer for hours at a shot I feel better than I have in years. I'm even sleeping more soundly, falling asleep easier. Its blissful. I plan on requesting my neuro remove the 'diagnosis' he gave me on the grounds that no tests were done so therefore no legitimate conclusion could ever have been reached and I'd prefer not to have something on my medical record for a second time that does not pertain to me. (The first time was a filing error, I got someone else's sheet.) I'll be continuing to see Dr N periodically for adjustments as needed to keep the muscle and bone from getting that locked up again. If anyone out there is experiencing these debilitating headaches, please do yourself a favor and try the 'unconventional' treatment of a chiropractor. You just might be surprised.

    • spinal surgery spinal surgery United States says:

      I had spinal surgeries..after which I developed constant pain on my left leg and foot.Went on for a few years.
      It was terrible..tried all sorts of treatment NON HELPED
      Finally it was a Chiropractor that did the trick..I am now COMPLETELY HEALED.
      So to those who comes across articles that discredit Chiros...thinks again... may be some very strange intentions behind them.
      If you are suffering from chronic pain go try out a reputable chiro..first if it doesn't work then move on.
      Every one is unique and respond to different treatments.
      Just want to share.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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