Migraine Symptoms

Migraines affect 15 % of the population and have many causes. One common causes of migraines are cervicogenic, literally meaning “neck originating” migraine. Migraine headaches vary from person to person, but typically they are throbbing headaches affecting one side of the head that gets worse when you move preventing you from carrying out normal activities.

In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.

Other symptoms commonly associated with a migraine include:

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • increased sensitivity to light and sound – which is why many people with a migraine want to rest in a quiet, dark room

  • sweating

  • poor concentration,

  • feeling very hot or very cold

  • abdominal pain

  • diarrhoea

Not everyone with a migraine experiences all or any of these additional symptoms and some people may experience them without having a headache.

The symptoms of a migraine usually last between four hours and three days, although you may feel very tired for up to a week afterwards.

About one in three people with migraines have temporary warning symptoms, known as aura, before a migraine. These include:

  • visual problems – such as seeing flashing lights, zig-zag patterns or blind spots

  • numbness or a tingling sensation like pins and needles – which usually starts in one hand and moves up your arm before affecting your face, lips and tongue

  • feeling dizzy or off balance

  • difficulty speaking

  • loss of consciousness – although this is unusual

Causes of Migraine

Migraine headaches are related to changes in the blood vessels of the head and neck. This is why they are often referred to as vascular headaches.

What causes these changes is unknown, but common precipitating factors include:

  • poor posture

  • sleeping badly

  • neck ache

  • hormonal changes (particularly those associated with menstruation or use of birth control pills)

  • sudden changes in the weather or temperature

  • emotional factors such as depression or anxiety

  • Certain foods or additives, especially the preservatives in cured meats, monosodium glutamate (MSG), caffeine, chocolate, cheese, and corn products may also be responsible in some people.


You should see your GP if you have frequent migraines (on more than five days a month) or if you have frequent or severe migraine symptoms that can't be managed with over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol

However, be careful not to take too many painkillers as prolonged use can cause other problems.

You should call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you experience:

  • paralysis or weakness in one or both arms and/or one side of the face

  • slurred or garbled speech

  • a sudden agonising headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before

  • headache along with a high temperature (fever), stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, and a rash

These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or meningitis, and should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

Chiropractic For Migraine

Chiropractors have been successfully treating migraines for decades. Many patients report significant improvements and, in many cases complete resolution of their symptoms.

According to a survey by Migraine.com


Out of 1030 votes at time of publication; 62% reported either significant reduction (35%) or complete elimination (27%) of symptoms. A further 25% reported some improvement.

Depending on the length of time you have been suffering will depend on how long it will take for a full recovery, with long standing migraine sufferers taking the longest to recover. However, manual therapy is less likely to help when migraines are triggered by food intolerance.

Migraine Self Help Tips

  • Apply Heat. While it's tough to diagnose the source of your problem, you can try applying heat to your neck, and/or shoulder areas. It also wouldn't hurt to apply heat to your head (in particular, the forehead area). Wheat bags work very well, and you can put them in the microwave and apply it to your forehead or neck. Discuss how long you should use the heat with your RMP therapist.

  • Sleep. While this may seem like a no brainer, getting a nap in may do the trick. A 20 minute power-nap can give some relief, especially if taken with medication.

  • Hot Tea. If you have the resources to get your hands on hot tea (or black coffee), this may be enough to take the pressure off the migraine. As far as hot tea goes, have a cup or two of hot green tea (Earl Grey is great) or something with Pomegranate in it.

  • Improve Posture!. Working on your posture alone can help cure chronic cerviogenic migraine. Focus on sitting up straight, walking upright, and keeping your shoulders level. Good neck position will reduce neck ache and migraines in the long term.

  • Massage. While a deep tissue massage may aggravate your symptoms if you are experiencing a migraine, a very gentle massage to the head and neck can be very relieving for migraines. Long term, look at Chiropractic care to address and correct neck problems, alleviating chronic migraines.

  • Acupuncture. There are two forms, the direct trigger point acupuncture that can be placed into tight muscles, and even into the head directly to help numb painful areas, and then the Chinese traditional acupuncture using meridians and Qi points to release stress and tension. Both can be effective.

Exercise for Migraine

Neck exercises and balance exercises, as well as eye training exercises may help to reduce the onset and frequency of migraines.

Here are some exercises you can download and try at home:

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