Study Shows Placebo as Effective as Chiropractic Treatment for Migraine Relief

WebMD reports that a small study out of Akershus University Hospital showed that patients found relief from their migrianes in equal measures from actual chiropractic manipulation and sham chiropractic treatment.


For the new study, researchers at Akershus University Hospital, in Norway, recruited 104 patients who were having at least one migraine a month.


The investigators randomly assigned each patient to one of three groups: one that received real chiropractic manipulation of the spine; one that received a sham version; and one that stuck 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 three months.


At the end of three months, patients in all three study groups were, on average, reporting pain reduction.

But one year later, only the two chiropractic groups still felt better. On average, they reported about four “migraine days” a month — down from six to eight at the study’s start.


In contrast, patients who stayed with their medications regressed to where they’d begun.


So what is going on? It’s not clear. But it’s unlikely that the sham chiropractic care had a true physiologic effect on patients’ migraines, said Aleksander Chaibi, a chiropractor and the lead researcher on the study.


“All of the placebo contacts were made outside of the spinal column,” he noted.


At the same time, Chaibi said, studies of pain medication typically see high response rates to the placebo, too.


It’s important to stress that this is a very small study, which the article’s author points out; however, it is safe to say that the take-away from message from it is  that having multiple treatment options available benefits migraine patients.


Read the entire article at WebMD.

Photo credit: Michael Dorausch via Flickr

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