Reducing migraine pain


By Dr. Ira Shapiro
Director, Plaza Chiropractic Center
Old Bridge

The symptoms can last for days or rapidly progress from nausea and the sensitivity to light and sound to excruciating pain piercing both sides of the head.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), migraines are among the 20 most “debilitating” diseases and the cause of 90% of all sufferers losing the ability to work or fully function during an attack. In fact, the Migraine Research Foundation estimates that nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households has someone with a migraine. This includes 12% of the population, 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children.

Despite the agonizing effects, most migraine sufferers never seek the advice of qualified medical professionals, preferring instead to treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications. This is unfortunate because there are a great number of preventive therapies that can reduce the frequency, suffering and disability associated with migraine attacks.

First, it’s important to realize that the physical and emotional pain that results from migraines can be attributed to a multitude of sources ranging from stress, depression and anxiety to tiredness, shoulder or neck tension, poor posture, physical overexertion, diet, dehydration and climate changes. Other contributing factors include age, gender, hormones and your genetic disposition.

About 5 percent of all headaches act as a warning sign for physical problems like a stroke or high blood pressure. The remaining 95 percent are primarily associated with muscle tension in the back, neck and shoulders. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than ever before with hours upon hours spent in one fixed position. In addition to being just generally unhealthy, the constant inactivity can not only cause joint irritation, but also the nerve endings in the neck, shoulders, back and head to ache and throb.

As a result, if you spend a large amount of time in front of a computer, typing and/or reading, you should really take a break every hour while performing a simple set of head and neck stretches aimed at loosening the surrounding muscles and joints. For example, the daily repeat of these simple techniques can help you to relax in addition to improving your overall physical and mental wellbeing. All should be performed in a quiet space while breathing deeply and slowly.

  • Shoulder Shrugs. Lift the top of shoulders to your ears imitating a shrug. Hold 3-4 seconds, release and then 3-5 times
  • Chin Turns. Start by looking forward. Slowly move your chin to the left. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Move back to the center and then repeat by stretching your chin to the right. Repeat 2-3 times
  • Head Tilts. Tilt your head right as if your ear was trying to touch your shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Move back to center before turning to the left. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Back Stretch. Place palms on your lower back, while bending knees. Push your back forward using your palm. Hold for 10 seconds, release and then repeat 2-3 times.

In addition, don’t underestimate the value of chiropractic care and massage therapy. Massages extend the benefits of chiropractic adjustments by decreasing muscle tension, increasing flexibility and reducing shoulder, back and neck pain. It is also an ideal method for dealing with stress and helping to combat anxiety and depression.

For more information on creating better, fitter and healthier lives for the entire family, contact the Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023 or visit

Dr. Ira A. Shapiro is the director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center, which he founded in Old Bridge in 1984. Recently selected to the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council (ACASC) Hall of Fame and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic team medical staff, Dr. Shapiro has spent the past 35 years providing safe, gentle and effective chiropractic care to tens of thousands of patients ranging from community members to professional athletes competing at the world’s highest levels.