Migraine associated vertigo
A migraine can be defined as the presence of a recurring, throbbing and severe headache which lasts between 4 hours and 3 days. It usually begins as a hemicrania pain that later spreads to both sides of the head. According to the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF), migraine is the third most prevalent disease worldwide, affecting approximately 12% of the population.
In fact, it is considered that at least 1 of every 4 households in the United States of America has a member (or more) who has been diagnosed with this condition. The migraine is also included in this statistic as the sixth most disabling disease.
This is because although most people experience attacks once or twice a month, others experience severe attacks at least 15 times per month, which really affects their capability to work or carrying out a social life without problems.
Migraine associated vertigo is a very common condition in women between 20 and 40 years old and the experts say that it might be closely related to upper spine conditions, such as misalignment.
It is very common for patients with migraines to refer nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and/or sound, fatigue and even the presence of an aura (like seeing colored lights or feeling numbness of the hands) before the headache.
In this sense, more than 40% of patients with a migraine refer to dizziness or loss of balance during the pain attacks, which is called migraine-associated vertigo (MAV). Chiropractors have the theory that, as the spine has the function to protect the spinal cord, any abnormality in its alignment or function alters the sending of messages from and to the central nervous system.
This condition is especially evident when the atlas (top bone of the spine) is out of alignment or has any abnormality which creates pressure in the spinal cord. This condition can cause many symptoms, including neck pain and a migraine. Likewise, the migraine caused by this mechanism will be associated with many neurological symptoms, including dizziness and, in consequence, it can be a cause of migraine-associated vertigo.
The current management of a migraine associated vertigo includes OTC (over-the-counter) or prescribed painkillers and anti-dizziness medication. However, this combination of medicines helps to manage the symptoms and the disease in the short term, but it does not help to prevent new pain attacks or treating the potential cause of the migraine. This is the same to say that it does not have curative treatment.
This fact explains why many specialists have looked for more effective and longer-lasting treatment and, among those specialists, the chiropractors are one of the most interested groups. For many years it has been known that Blair chiropractic has demonstrated to be an excellent option of treatment for certain types of migraine and vertigo. So, it seems to be an excellent option for treating migraine-associated vertigo.
At this point, it is important to mention that a Blair chiropractic is a professional with functions and knowledge which are very similar to other healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists, osteopathists and physiotherapists. So, a Blair chiropractor is completely qualified to treat neurological diseases, such as migraine and vertigo, especially if he/she has additional formation like “neurological chiropractor”.
One of the main bases of the Blair chiropractic treatment for migraine associated vertigo is the Atlas Orthogonal. This Blair chiropractic technique consists of locating and correcting subluxations of the occipital-atlantoaxial complex based on scientific and biomechanical procedures.
When the atlas and other vertebrae recover their normal position, the nerves can properly send and receive the central nervous system messages, which helps to reduce the migraine and its related symptoms.
The effectiveness of this treatment has been proved by some researchers. For example, Dr. Drew Hall. said that a 23-year-old female experienced a great improvement in her symptoms after undergoing a Blair Atlas Orthogonal treatment, including the disappearance of dizziness. However, it is very important to highlight that Atlas Orthogonal can't be used on cracking, popping or twisting of the spine.
Another option of treatment is the traditional spine adjustment targeting specifically the vertebrae that are misaligned. It is also important to highlight that Blair chiropractors are qualified to perform the Blair Technique, which is the traditional treatment for the most common type of vertigo.
This maneuver consists of repositioning misplaced otoconia (bony particles located in the inner ear), which are the structures that allow the body to determine the body position and movement.
There are also some exercises used to "fix" the vestibulocochlear (inner-ear) system that can be performed by the same patient once he/she has learned them under the supervision of an expert. However, these exercises are not so successful as the Blair Technique.
It is always necessary that a Blair chiropractor performs a complete physical examination to decide the best way of treatment for each person and to determine if vertigo is caused by the migraine or by any other thing.
There are other chiropractic interventions that can be used to treat migraine-associated vertigo, but they have not been well studied as the treatments mentioned above. Among these techniques, heat or cold application, soft tissue therapy (such as myofascial release), flexion-distraction, post isometric relaxation, and diversified, instrument assisted, drop table spinal manipulative therapy can be included.
It is necessary to say that only a qualified Blair chiropractor can determine if a patient is a good candidate for any of these treatment options because some of them have certain absolute contraindications and the problem would worsen if they undergo any of these procedures.
Finally, it is very important to say that it is always essential to discard other diseases that can cause migraines and vertigo because these symptoms can be associated with serious neurological diseases. This is why the advice of an experienced Blair chiropractor, a general physician, and even a neurologist are very significant in the study of these patients.