Migraines and Inflammation


Migraines are a very common condition. In fact, if you don’t suffer from migraines yourself, it is likely that you know someone who does. About 39 million people in the United States suffer from migraines. Around the world, the total number is around 1 billion. That’s a lot of people who are searching for a way to relieve their pain.

Even though there has been much research into what kinds of medications can treat migraines, doctors have still not found a definitive cause. Recent research, however, shows a link between migraines and inflammation. In this article, you will read how inflammation can be a factor in the development of migraines and how migraine patients are finding relief through a natural, non-drug treatment.

How the Body Uses Inflammation

Inflammation is not always bad. It’s actually a good thing when it does its purpose. When the body’s immune system senses that there is a threat to the body, such as a virus in the respiratory system or bacteria in a wound, the immune system’s response causes inflammation. The body sends fluid and white blood cells to attack the threat, and the swelling that is a part of the inflammatory response can dilute the threat or block it from traveling to other parts of the body. In this way, inflammation is a good and necessary part of a healthy immune system.

However, sometimes the immune system falsely identifies something as a threat when it is not. The inflammatory response can damage the body’s own tissue. Such is the case in some auto-immune diseases. In other cases, excess or ongoing inflammation from a legitimate cause can have other negative effects on the body.

Stress, Hormones, and Inflammation

A common trigger for migraines in women is the monthly fluctuation of their hormone levels. Among all migraine sufferers, experiencing stress or the let down from a stressful event can trigger a migraine. The common thread here is that stress and hormone fluctuation can cause inflammation.

A physiologist, Hans Selye, was the one who began the thought process about stress and inflammation. The body experiences stress in a number of ways, and it does not distinguish between various types of stressors. Fluctuating hormones from a woman’s menstruation can be a form of stress. Emotional stress from strained relationships, having high demands at work, or coming down with a cold are all causes of stress on the body. The brain recognizes the stressors and secretes hormones to help the body handle the situation.

The body produces cortisol. It is a steroid that controls the levels of inflammation. If the body experiences stress for long periods of time, the cortisol can get used up. Adrenalin is a temporary substitute for cortisol, but an influx of adrenalin can make you shaky, give you a rapid heart rate, and increase your blood sugar. It should help you in a situation when you need to fight or take flight to save your life. However, it’s not a good situation to be in on a consistent basis. Running low on cortisol is exhausting and prevents the body from effectively managing inflammation.

Reducing Inflammation and Alleviating Migraines

When you’ve had a lot of stressors in your life, it can be difficult to avoid migraine episodes. The key to helping your body better manage its level of inflammation is to reduce the stress that the body is experiencing. One form of stress that many people don’t know that they have is a misalignment in the upper cervical vertebrae – the atlas (C1) and axis (C2). How can these small bones at the base of the skull put stress on the body? The answer is through the brainstem.

The brainstem is an essential part of the central nervous system, connecting the spinal cord and the brain. It passes through the atlas and axis vertebrae. When these vertebrae become misaligned through a simple trip and fall or something more severe like a car accident, they can put pressure on the brainstem, which causes an inflammatory response. The brainstem can be prevented from accurately transmitting messages to and from the brain. Blood flow and cerebral spinal fluid flow can also be hindered. These conditions have been known to cause migraines. Correcting the misaligned vertebrae enables the brainstem to return to its normal function and often relieves other health conditions that developed as a result of the misalignment.

How Upper Cervical Doctors Help

Upper cervical doctors understand the importance of having your upper cervical spine in top condition. They use a gentle adjusting technique that helps the bones to move back into their original position, without the popping or cracking sound that is common with regular chiropractic adjustments. The upper cervical technique is not forceful but is precise and effective at restoring proper spinal alignment.

Once the atlas and axis vertebrae are correctly aligned, multiple benefits begin to unfold. Stress and inflammation in the body go down. The body begins to heal from it’s heightened stressful state. In fact, since the brainstem is able to function at its optimal level, the brain is better able to regulate hormones and initiate healing in other areas of the body that may need it. Inflammation keeps going down as continued healing occurs throughout the body. All of this results in fewer and less severe migraine episodes. Many patients even report a complete disappearance of their migraines after receiving our care. If you’re longing for relief from migraines, upper cervical chiropractic care could be the solution that you’ve been searching for.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.