How Chiropractic can help Your Period Migraine

Chiropractic can help with period migraines

Hey guys, it’s your favorite Chiropractor, Dr. Lell. Today I want to talk to you about…

Your period, Your Period Migraine, and how Chiropractic can Help.

The International Headache Society (I bet those guys are fun) defines a migraine as a common disabling primary headache disorder. And they’re usually accompanied with sensitivity to light, sound, and nausea. They can occur with or without aura. A migrainous aura is a signal that you’re about to be in a world of hurt. It announces that the migraine is coming. Usually, the aura are little flecks of color or vision changes but it can be literally anything and people may have their own unique auras.

60% of migraineurs experience migraines during or around menses

Now no one knows what causes a migraine; chances are it’s a perfect storm of things mixing together. But there are many, many established links and triggers. A BIG trigger for migraines in women are hormonal changes. Of the 9 million women who suffer from migraines, 60% of them experience it during or around menses. This is especially problematic because perimenstrual migraines last longer, they’re more debilitating, and they’re harder to treat with meds.

82% of migraine sufferers also have same-sided neck stiffness or pain

Of the 60% of perimenstrual migraine sufferers, 82% of them report pain or stiffness in their neck, usually on the same side that the migraine will hit. Many women say they feel the neck symptoms first and they usually know that means a migraine is on its way. Is there a possible connection or link? A group of clinicians thought it was worth checking out and they developed a study to see whether or not dysfunction of the cervical spine added to the likelihood of a migraine for a woman on her period.

What causes cervical dysfunction?

  • poor posture
  • decreased cervical range of motion
  • weak neck muscles
  • tight neck muscles
  • neural tension
  • trigger points
  • subluxations (joints that don’t move well or are “Out of Alignment”)


The Results

Which of these causes of cervical dysfunction are more likely cause or worsen a perimenstrual migraine?

  1. Decreased Range of Motion, especially rotation
  2. Muscle Tightness, especially in the upper traps, SCM, and suboccipitials (the muscles at the base of the skull) makes a woman 7x more likely to get a migraine.
  3. Trigger points in the upper traps makes a woman 6x more likely to get a migraine
  4. Neural Tension (a pinched nerve makes a woman 5.8-10x more likely to get a migraine.
  5. Subluxations (stiff joints) in the lower neck makes a woman 17x more likely to get a migraine

It’s hard to explain the why behind these findings without getting incredibly technical. But to boil it down, no one thinks the primary cause of a perimenstrual migraine is the musculoskeletal system. These dysfunctions add to the severity of the underlying hormonal causes (which include systemic inflammation from increased serum prostaglandins) because of some central nerve hubs located in the neck and closely associated with structures of the neck. In other words, the primary cause of the perimenstrual migraine is hormonal. The hormones are what’s causing the negative changes, but biomechanical dysfunctions in the neck amplify the negative effects of the hormones.

How Chiropractic can help with menstrual migraines

Chiropractors are the best choice in healthcare for treating biomechanical dysfunctions in the body. At my office, a menstrual migraine treatment program would include electrotherapy and soft tissue work to decrease trigger points and relax stiff muscles; chiropractic adjustments improve range of motion and decrease subluxations; and at-home neurodynamic stretches and exercises to decrease neural tension. This program addresses all of the dysfunctions proven to worsen menstrual migraines.  By seeking care before and during your period, migraines can be greatly relieved.

If you’d like some help with your menstrual migraines, make an appointment online to see me in my Portland office. As always, drop me a line on Facebook with any questions or topic requests. Until next time, remember to eat well and move often.

Yours in health,

Dr. Lell