Migraines- The Background

Migraine Headaches are all too common. Almost everyone knows someone who suffers from migraines, or suffers from migraines themselves... trying to find relief through through various treatments can be difficult on the way to finding a solution. 

The Head and Neck relationship with the Neurology of Migraine Headache.png

Migraines is the THIRD most prevalent illness worldwide. In the U.S., 38 million people are affected, including men, women and children. Of those, more than 4 million have chronic daily migraines (at least 15 migraine days per month).  That is over 12% of the population, including children… which often goes undiagnosed. An estimated 10% of children suffer from migraines!

When someone is suffering from a migraine, it is often accompanied by a collection of neurological symptoms including: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.

According to migraine research foundation: 

  • "Healthcare and lost productivity costs associated with migraine are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually in the U.S.

  • In 2015, the medical cost of treating chronic migraine was more than $5.4 billion, however, these sufferers spent over $41 billion on treating their entire range of conditions.

  • Healthcare costs are 70% higher for a family with a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine affected family.

  • American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of 113 million lost work days due to migraine.

  • U.S. headache sufferers receive $1 billion worth of brain scans each year.

  • Migraine sufferers, like those who suffer from other chronic illnesses, experience the high costs of medical services, too little support, and limited access to quality care.

  • Beyond the burden of a migraine attack itself, having migraine increases the risk for other physical and psychiatric conditions."

What causes a Migraine? 
The diagnosis of a Migraine is typically made if people have a combination of symptoms and after other disorders have been ruled out. Part of the process can be sorting out wether it is an actual Migraine or a different type of Headache
The international Headache society breaks them down into two broad categories: "migraine with aura" and "migraine without aura".
The exact cause is unknown, but is thought to be a combination of factors including vascular and neurological, with hormonal and environmental triggers. 

Unlocking the Puzzle- A Missing Piece

When patients come into our office suffering from chronic migraines, they have typically already seen headache specialists, they have seen the best neurologists in the North East, and have undergone MRI’s and brain scans. They have changed their diets in an attempt to remove “triggers”, and they are going through various combinations of medications (Such as Treximet, Imitrex, or Migranal) in an effort to find something that will help them for more than a short while. 
Most have tried Botox and various alternative approaches including acupuncture and conventional chiropractic in an effort to find a treatment for their relief. 

When we do sit down and talk with them, they are typically tired and frustrated… and have been told to “Learn to live with it” or "It is all in your head".  Most of them are a little doubtful and skeptical that their condition can be helped and that their health can go in a different direction from its current trajectory.

As we sit down and go through a consultation, we are able to find out more about their health history and begin to piece together the puzzle to see the whole picture. In our office our focus is on correcting the Structural positioning of the head and neck, rather than focusing on the secondary conditions. The truth is that Structural Correction has benefits that go beyond treating or curing a specific illness or disease. Correction of Atlas Displacement Complex (ADC) does one thing thing: 

It restores the self-healing, restoring potential within your own body. 

Our bodies are meant to be healthy and thriving; when this is not the case we need to find what is preventing the body’s self-healing mechanisms and true, vibrant potential. The most important piece: A fully functioning, healthy brain and nervous system. 

Atlas Correction Procedure

One of the most common and missed pieces of the puzzle in the causes of migraine headache is a structural shifting of the head and neck. This can result in  disturb normal circulation to the brain and create a situation opportune for headaches. This is called an Atlas Displacement Complex.

ADC Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Vermont

This missing piece, when not corrected, is why many therapies and treatments are able to take the pain away for a time, but do not significantly change  the environment that is leading to the headache in the first place. 

At Precision Chiropractic here in Williston, Vermont, we utilize a gentle procedure (Atlas Correction) that is designed to restore normal structural position and biomechanics to the head and neck. The procedure is a very low force correction, is subtle, and almost imperceivable to the patient. Research has shown significant improvement in utilizing this unique approach (NUCCA Upper Cervical) and its effectiveness in helping those with Migraines. (1,2)

The changes on a patient’s post-correction structural X-rays are pronounced and patients suffering from migraine typically begin noticing and feeling improvements in the intensity and frequency of their headaches very quickly.


1. Woodfield, H. Charles, III. “Effect of Atlas Vertebrae Realignment in Subjects with Migraine: An Observational Pilot Study.” Accessed online: 24 May 2016. <https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/630472/.
2. Palmer JP, Dickholtz MD. Improvement in radiographic measurements, posture, pain & quality of life in nonmigraine headache patients undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care: a retrospective practice based study. J Vert Sublux Res. 2009 Jun;1:1-11.