Migraines (and Vertigo)

In my three decades (wow!) of practicing chiropractic, Applied Kinesiology, and Diagnostic Muscle Testing, I am continually learning and putting together the big picture. That picture is being able to quickly, and precisely, find the reason for a person’s pain, and more importantly, how to fix it. This past year I have had a good number of patients with chronic weekly or more frequent migraines; in some cases 50 years or more of migraines once or several times each week, as well as some patients suffering from daily vertigo.

Sadly, the medical state of the art approach hasn’t helped in any of these cases. In my view, the medical toolbox just isn’t equipped to look at what I have found is the root cause of migraine headaches (and often vertigo as well), in the vast majority of cases. That is; structural imbalances. Chronically tight muscles constantly pulling on various bones in the skull cause stress on the various parts of the brain, and it is easy to imagine this causing some problems, most commonly migraines, headaches, and vertigo. The most common muscle over contractions I have found related to this are; upper trapezius muscle, pulling on the occiput and literally twisting the skull; scalene muscles, tightening up one (or both) sides of the neck, and the medial, or internal, pterygoid muscle, an important jaw closer and lateral deviator, as well as the masseter muscles, very powerful jaw closers, or clenchers.

Using diagnostic muscle testing, I have been able to usually find, and help the patient fix the root causes of these muscle imbalances. Keeping in mind that everything in the body is connected to everything else, tight jaw muscles are almost always a result of a pelvic, gluteus muscle weakness / inhibition, causing a sacroiliac instability, often coming from a foot or ankle injury, often decades ago. Upper trapezius muscle tightness (the “cranium twister”) is almost always a result of an old shoulder / collarbone injury. Jaw imbalances, in the form of chronically over contracted pterygoid muscles, which cause TMJ problems and more importantly pull on the sphenoid, a cranial bone, make one eye appear lower, and also cause cranial stress, and often headaches, migraines, and often vertigo as well.

The good news is; these patterns are all fixable, with simple home exercises, home massages, sometimes a set of orthotics for the shoes, and a couple of basic chiropractic adjustments. It is amazing to us at the office, how many patients we see with these complaints who “have seen the best medical guys in the country” who were unable to help at all, and we almost always find the fix, and see gradual steady improvements within a few weeks, with continued improvement as the patient gains structural stability, strength, balance, and resiliency. I have had many patients just this year who had complaints like “vertigo every day” for decades, “migraine headaches every week for 50 years”, “tension headaches every day for decades” who are now done dealing with these complaints. With older patients, who have had the underlying imbalances for a long long time; the improvements have been, understandably, gradual. And in younger patients, the improvements have often been seemingly almost instantaneous.

In my own case, an old R ankle sprain at age 9 led to a series of muscle imbalances that ultimately caused chronic R side sciatic pain, as well as R side neck tightness and shoulder and upper arm pain. Using what I have learned, I have finally fixed it, and have no pain.

The treatment in my practice is simple, noninvasive, and totally without adverse effects. The big thing is specific home exercises, and specific massage, and very often some support for the weak foot with orthotics. It is very rare to see a case where this approach hasn't helped. I am happy to have been able to help many patients escape their often decades long suffering with migraines, tension headaches, and vertigo many of them have suffered.

Dr Steve Tag