At BodyBack chiropractic we commonly see patients that suffer from migraines. 50% of people get headaches with 30% getting full migraines. This equalis nearly 1 in 4 US households having someone that suffers from migraines. Most commonly, migraines occur most common between the ages of 18 to 44 and occur in females more than males. Migraines are a neurological disease with extremely incapacitating symptoms. Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: Visual disturbances called ‘auras’, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell and tinging or numbness in the extremities or face.

Causes for migraines can have many causes including emotional (stress, anxiety, depression), hormonal (cyclical with the menstrual cycle), medical condition (high blood pressure, infection), physical or mechanical (injury, dysfunction in your spine, nerve irritation, tight muscles, trigger points, jaw problems), environmental ( weather, allergies, etc), and due to unknown causes. All headaches affect our ability to concentrate, do the things we love to do, spend time with loved ones, and limit those things we need to do, but, migraines will stop us from these things.

With so many causes it is important that we get to the root cause. Whether the headaches are from muscles, joints, discs, stress, or something else, knowing why is the key to stopping them. In our office we focus on the mechanical and physical but we can also help you with lifestyle changes for the other cause. Chiropractic has great success in relieving and resolving headaches.

How We Treat Migraines In Portland, ME

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

The consultation and examination are all focused on finding the cause of your migraines. We start by getting to know you as a person and how your headaches are impacting your life. We then get an in-depth knowledge of your health history and your lifestyle to determine any possible causes of headaches. Our comprehensive M.A.P.S. approach looks at total body function assessing Movement, Alignment (posture), Pain (stiffness), and Strength of the neck. This allows us to identify the true cause of headaches.

We go a step further examining headaches by looking at your lifestyle, environmental emotional triggers for a complete holistic approach.

Specific Chiropractic Care In Portland, ME

One of the major causes of migraines is nerve irritation due to the spine not moving properly. In chiropractic we use the term subluxation. Chiropractic manipulation is the best treatment to resolve this nerve irritation and gets the spine moving properly. Causes for subluxations are improper Movement, Abnormal Posture, and lack of Stability in the spine.
Chiropractic manipulation targets specific segments of the spine that are stuck and are restricted and allows the spine to move properly. This removes any nerve irritation and relieves headaches and physical causes for migraines. It is important to have a chiropractor assess your spine for subluxations to find the root cause for your headaches.

Muscle Treatment

Migraines can occur when muscles get tight resulting in what’s known as a trigger point. These trigger points cause ‘radiating’ pain and travel, sitting behind the head, eyes, or forehead. The most common muscles are found at the base of the skull in a muscle group called the suboccipital triangle and muscles in the side / front of the neck called the scalene muscles. Another common area is muscles of the jaw if a person clenches or grinds their teeth.

Chiropractic addresses proper joint movement and helps with the brains ability to control these muscles. At BBC+P , we combine muscle work with manipulation, so that we address the joints, nerves AND muscles. Many patients find this gives longer lasting relief.

Corrective Exercises and Stretches

With the spine adjusted and muscles relaxed, we then teach patients how to care for their own headaches that come from mechanical causes (posture, tight musculature). We use a system that teaches the foundations for a healthy neck starting with proper posture, stretching, and finishing with strength building exercises for the neck. Our goal is to get rid of your headaches fast, keep you that way and teach you what you can do every day to stay feeling great.

Patients find that when they know how to strengthen their neck and stretch properly, they can control their own headaches long term or able to decrease how frequent and severe they are.

Nutritional Supplementation

Nutrition plays a vital role in the management of headaches. Many foods that increase inflammation will make headaches work. Examples of this are processed foods, foods higher in sugars, dairy, processed grains ( gluten ), and MSG ( found in many processed foods). We have patients do a food log with a headache journal to see if migraines may be associated with nutrition.

When dealing with migraines, it is important to eat as natural as you possibly can and remove foods they may be triggers. Sometimes, this isn’t enough and that is when supplements are helpful. A few useful supplements include: Fish Oil, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Potassium .

Common Triggers of Migraines in Portland, ME


Stress. Busy lives. Competing demands. Many people have stress, however, it is a ttrigger for almost 70% of people with migraines. Migraines stress is different though as it is compounded by the worry of when the next attack will strike makes for an exhausting cycle.

When stress occurs it creates significant physiological changes to the body and affects the immune system. By flooding the body with cortisol a cascade of events such as increasing blood pressure, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and recurring sickness all can occur when stress is prolonged.

The key to removing stress is to truly identify what causes stress and work to manage it. This can seem like a mountain to climb, but it can be done. Utilizing tools like seeing a counselor / therapist, relaxation therapy, meditation, exercise, consistent sleep, chiropractic adjustments all help to reduce the stress on the body.

Changes in or an Irregular Sleep Schedule

The body can survive 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, and 3-5 days without sleep. Without it our body will completely shut down. Sleep allows the brain and the body to renew and repair, a reset. Half of migraine attacks occur between 4am-9am, putting those with sleep disorders at a greater risk.

Ensuring good sleep is important. Reducing caffeine usage, not looking at screens before bed, consistent bed times, hydration, and proper nutrition play significant roles in your sleep. What you do all day affects your sleep.

When you do go to bed, make sure that sleeping position isn’t putting undue stress on the spine by utilizing a good mattress and a proper pillow to support the neck.


Hormones can have a significant affect on migraines. This is why women are 3x more likely to have a migraine than men. Cyclical changes in estrogen levels can lead to migraine attacks. This is why patients have found relief through foods and medications that affect the hormones.

We recommend natural treatment whenever possible. Helping patients make changes in lifestyle and diet can help with hormonal imbalances

Caffeine and Alcohol

When it comes to liquids we consume, 2 items we need to moderate are alcohol and caffeine. This is even more true in patients with migraines.

Both Caffeine and Alcohol can create dehydration, a major trigger for patients with migraines. Caffeine also stays in the system for several hours. If you find you are drinking an afternoon coffee to help you stay awake at the office, then caffeine is most likely affecting your sleep, the body’s ability to renew and refresh. Caffeine has the ability to create headaches if not consumed (body is addicted), consumed too much ( reducing sleeping and creating dehydration) but can help patients if they are having a migraine as it opens blood vessels.

Alcohol also affects the brain as iit crosses the blood brain barrier. When alcohol enters the brain, it interrupts nerve pathways and the brains ability to control the body. It also affects the brains ability to renew and creates dehydration. This is why on average migraine sufferers do not cosume as much alcohol as the general population.

Diet and Dehydration

The foods you eat have a significant impact on your body. There are several foods that are known to be triggers for patients with migraines. Common foods that can trigger migraines include histamine, MSG, chocolate, cheese, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, cured meats, gluten and diary. Keeping a food journal can be extremely helpful in identifying what foods trigger migraines.

Examining the diet is one of the first thing a patient should do if migraine attacks are severe or worsening. Foods such as processed foods and sugar (artificial or natural) can create inflammation in the body. The rule of thumb is ‘If you can get it in in the wild, you can have it” Many patients have found that doing a natural diet for 30 days eliminates their migraines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can your neck being out of alignment cause migraines?

When your neck is ‘ out of alignment’ it is when the neck is not moving properly due to posture, trauma, stress, etc. This can cause migraines when the nervous system is irritated, muscles are tight, and joitns aren’t moving properly.

What is the quickest way to get rid of a migraine?

Depending on the type of migraine you have, there are different answers. Many patients find a nap, caffeine, hydration and a dark quiet room to provide rerlief. If possible, getting a chiropractic adjustment with muscle treatment can provide significant relief.

How do you permanently cure a migraine?

Migraines due to Jaw, muscle, joint, disc, or nerve issues often times are resolved through chiropractic care. When this is combined with lifestyle changes, it often can help alleviate many other types of migraines as well.

What is the most effective treatment for migraines?

Natural treatment is the best method for overall health.This is why a healthy diet, exercise and chiropractic care are great for migraine prevention.

Does exercise help with migraines?

Because migraines can be associated with blood vessels, muscles and hormones, exercise has a positive affect on all of these. It is a must for patients with migraines.

What is the best preventative medication for migraines?

Eating all natural. Food is medicine.

What food to avoid during a migraine?

Start by watching sugar intake. This includes both artificial and natural sugars. I also recommend reducing inflammation in the body through gluten and dairy free diets as well.