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Chiropractic Research Review

Chiropractic Manipulation and Migraine Headaches:

An estimated 11 million adults in the United States suffer moderate to severe disability from migraine headaches. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is a common alternative therapy, but its efficacy compared to standard medical treatment has not been determined.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark


This randomized clinical trial involved 218 patients diagnosed with migraine. It measured the relative efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline, and therapy combining both of these treatment modalities for prophylaxis of migraine headache. Clinically important improvement was observed in patients receiving spinal manipulation alone (40%), amitriptyline alone (49%) and combined therapy (41%). But in the posttreatment follow-up period, a far higher percentage of patients who received only spinal manipulation experienced reduction of their headache index scores compared with those taking amitriptyline or who underwent the combined-therapy.

This study showed chiropractic spinal manipulation for migraine headaches to be as effective as an established medical treatment modality (the drug amitriptyline); the results suggest that chiropractic therapy should be considered a viable treatment option for migraine headache sufferers.

Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, et al. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for prophylaxis of migraine headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Oct. 1998;21(8), pp511-19. Reprints: Tel: (630) 889-6524; Fax: (630) 889-6432

Chiropractic Research Review

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