Migraine therapy is an alternative to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Sometimes combined with acupuncture, music therapy, or biofeedback, migraine therapy is a form of manual physical therapy that treats migraines using upper cervical spine manipulation to decrease the severity, frequency and duration of migraines.
Before beginning treatment, a physical therapist (PT) would first speak with the patient and evaluate him or her for previous related injuries, pain points, muscle strength, posture, and current range of motion. Based on the results of the interview and physical examination, the PT would then design a n effective treatment plan specific to the patient’s condition and therapy goals.
Physical therapists treating migraines can employ several different techniques, including spinal manipulation (soft tissue stretch), neck mobilization (movement of the neck joints), strengthening exercises (for the neck, chest, and upper back), and stretching to alleviate the painful symptoms of migraines and improve mobility in the short and long-term.
Spinal manipulation is particularly effective for reducing the need for pain medication for migraine headaches; it can actually produce a short-term effect similar to amitriptyline (a drug commonly used for migraines, but with far fewer side effects.
Posture and exercise education also play an important role in migraine therapy. Improving posture can reduce stress