HealthDay News — Real and sham chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT) are equally likely to ease patients’ migraine pain, according to a study published online on October 2 in the European Journal of Neurology.1

Researchers at Akershus University Hospital in Norway recruited 104 patients who were having at least 1 migraine a month. Each patient was randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: 1 that received real CSMT; 1 that received a sham version; and 1 that stayed with their usual pain-relieving medication. 

The sham version involved putting pressure around the shoulder and gluteal muscles, but no manipulation of the spine. Patients in both the real and sham groups went to 12 sessions over 3 months.

The researchers found that at the end of 3 months, patients in all 3 study groups were, on average, reporting pain reduction. One year later, only the 2 chiropractic groups still felt better. On average, they reported about 4 migraine days a month — down from 6 to 8 at the study’s start. In contrast, patients who stayed with their medications regressed to where they’d begun.

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“Because some migraineurs do not tolerate medication because of adverse events or comorbid disorders, CSMT might be considered in situations where other therapeutic options are ineffective or poorly tolerated,” the authors write.

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  1. Chaibi A, Benth JŠ, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine: a three-armed, single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. Eur J Neurol. 2016. doi: 10.1111/ene.13166.