National Migraine Centre
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Change in symptoms - occipital bone and atlas vertebra- chiropractic treatments?

Hi All

I have been having migraines for the last 20 years. In the last two years some of my symptoms have changes: I get very stiff and painful neck which I didn't use to get; also vertigo is a new one.

I had kidney infection 5 years ago and I really don't want to take strong migraine medications; paracetamol or ibuprofen is as far as I go if its very bad and can'r afford to go to bed. Also, I have been taking natural remedies all my life as I am italian and in Italy homeopathy is well recognised and practised.

I am also a contemporary dancer and movement researcher so I am very interested in how structural/mechanical/alignment/and other anatomical functions effect and can be at the core of migraine. I am also really fedup with 'pain killer remedies' and just suppressing the symptoms, I am interested in tackling the causes (even if it takes a long time). I have done some research and I can relate my new symptoms with Occipital headaches

I hope I haven't developed this type of headache as well as my usual migraine!!

I also found interesting information about the first vertebra/Atlas misalignment which could be the cause of my new symptoms and could really effect the amount of migraines I am getting

Has anyone had problems with their Atlas vertebra and tried any of these techniques: osteopathic Craniosacral Therapy, chiropractic Sacro-Occipital Technique, Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic Technique ?? I haven't tried these yet and was wondering if anyone has something to share in relation to this.

ALSO, I am planning to go to my GP again soon; I am not fun of them as they don't really understand migraine and just prescribe strong pain killers; so I always have to do all the research myself and then suggest things they wouldn't otherwise (I am sure other have experienced this). I will try to convince them I need lots of tests as last time I had major tests for my migraine was a long time ago (apart from blood tests), so: a new blood test, is it worth asking for an electroencephalogram (EEG)? last time I had one was 17 years ago (I have epilepsy history in my family); neck x-ray ..not sure if NHs does it or the chiropractic will do this.....anymore tests I can ask the GP for ??? Thanks !

4 Replies


I've had chronic pain in my face / arm and migraines for a number of years. I have curvature of the spine which wasn't diagnosed until my late thirties, also some extra ribs (cervical ribs). All of this relates to my pain, and in turn to my migraines. I've always been told off for having dreadful posture.

I saw an osteopath a few years ago. I know they aren't the same as chiropractors but the misalignment theories certainly make sense to me. The osteopath explained that I was very misaligned and tried to ease everything back into place. I didn't find the treatment helpful and quite often came out with a migraine, especially following any work on my skull. I am not brave enough to try a chiropractor. It seems that any treatment that involves manipulation of my soft tissues and spine makes things very much worse, and as cervical ribs lie very close to major blood vessels I'm a bit worried about treatment that might cause serious harm.

But I do believe that there is a strong link between my posture and my pain. At the moment I am getting relief from botox injections, but I still get flare ups of pain if I do anything "wrong" with my posture, such as carrying shopping, sitting on the floor or lying on my stomach instead of my back. I go to an exercise class run by a dancer, and she's been giving me some tips for better posture. I'm also thinking of seeing a physio again (they've helped in the past, mostly by explaining the anatomy and by giving me exercises rather than manipulation). I think treatment that involves normal movement patterns suits me better.

I think you are right to try and tackle the causes of the problem. I'm sick of taking medication and try to do so as little as possible. Unfortunately it's not very easy to get anything other than pills on the NHS. Oh yes - I find those heatpacks you warm up in the microwave ease the neck pain, and pressing one right over the migraine headache is good too.

Good luck.


Thanks a lot thats very helpful. If you like the anatomical explanation, exercises and moving I can recommend alexander technique, feldenkrise and idiokinesis! Yes I also prefer being given exercises, sometime the problem with manipulation is that the re alignment might work after the manipulation but you then keep using the 'wrong' muscles or continue the bad posture habits so the skeleton will miss align again. My partner is currently doing myofascial release treatment for lower back pain and arm, its interesting as it works with pelvis alignment and release of the fascia (which connects all muscles and when tight makes the muscle not function properly)

I will go to a free 15 min chiropractors consultation and then decide if I want to take on the a first treatment...I like the idea of them doing Xray so at least I will know for sure if I have a misaligned vertebra or not. Since 2 years ago I also have problem with my teeth and doctor said also my bite can be mis aligned and can contribute to the migraine so he recommended seeing and orthodontist. All orthodontist I found seemed to be concerned only with they way teeth looked, I just on the internet an orthodontist that works in treating migraine! I'll go and see him. Apparently mis functional bite (which can be caused both by mis aligned teeth and vertebras) is a big cause of migraines........

good luck to you too


here the dentist/migraine link


I did see an Alexander teacher a couple of years ago and liked the idea of it, but for various reasons we couldn't commit to it.

I had orthodontics as a teenager, though not too much as they said that ideally I needed major reconstructive surgery which might be worse than doing nothing. I'd been told from the age of 6 that I had an unusual bite / jaw, so that's probably all linked with my head and neck. I don't think I had my first migraine until i was 19, although I had aura-type symptoms in childhood, and it's only looking back that I can spot the connection.

When my facial pain started I got referred to a maxillifacial surgeon because they thought it was TMJ disorder. I had thorough investigations and treatment but it turned out not to be that. But I think you can get migraine from jaw problems, so probably worth getting it checked out. The TMJ treatment consisted of eating softer foods, not yawning, rubbing anti-inflammatory gel over the joint, and wearing a soft plastic splint on my teeth at night. It wasn't too arduous, and worth a try even though it wasn't that in the end. I also had an arthroscopy of the joint but that seemed to be a last resort, and would probably only be of any use if you had an inflamed joint. In my case it caused further problems and pain, but sometimes you have to try these things.


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