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Title: The physical and psychosocial effects of migraines on female adults and their experience of chiropractic treatment in pain management
Authors: Pirthiraj, Ashalya 
Keywords: Female adults--migraines;Chiropractic treatment;Pain management
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2022
The purpose of this study was to explore the physical and psychosocial effects of
migraines on female adults and their experience of chiropractic treatment in the
management of pain. The objectives of this study were to explore the physical
symptoms with which female patients with migraines presented, to understand
how migraines affected female adults psychologically and socially, to understand
how chiropractic treatment enabled their management of migraines, and to explore
which other complementary and alternative treatments were used by patients for
their migraines.
This study used a qualitative descriptive design which explored the experiences of
female chiropractic patients, between the ages of 18-65 who presented to
chiropractic practices for migraine treatment in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal.
Purposive, convenience and snowball sampling were used to recruit participants
for this study. The data was collected through 12 semi-structured interviews and
subsequently analysed using thematic analysis. From the study, six main themes
Theme one focused on the physical effects of migraines. The sub-themes that
emerged were the symptoms of migraines, and the impact on physical functioning
and daily life.
Theme two related to the psychological and cognitive effects experienced by the
participants. The sub-themes that emerged were depression, anxiety, feelings of
hopelessness and withdrawal, fear-avoidance behaviour and lifestyle changes,
and acceptance of migraines. Theme three focused on the effects migraines had on relationships. The subthemes that emerged were the impact on family and social networks, which
included both strained and supportive relationships, and the impact on work life.
Theme four explored the factors that contributed to migraines. The sub-themes
that emerged were hormonal factors, oral contraceptives, dietary factors, weatherrelated factors and lighting, musculoskeletal factors, and sleep deprivation.
Theme five focused on chiropractic treatment for migraines. The sub-themes that
emerged were the experiences of chiropractic treatment for migraine pain
management, and perceptions of chiropractic treatment approaches to migraine
Theme six discussed the self-management of migraines. The sub-themes that
emerged were resistance to medication, factors that alleviated migraines and
alternative therapies.
This is one of the first qualitative studies in South Africa to highlight the severe
burden of this disease and the psychosocial impact of migraines on female
chiropractic patients. Chiropractic treatment improved the quality of life, and
reduced the duration, severity and frequency of migraines, and the need for
pharmacological therapy. All participants had favourable experiences with
chiropractors for migraine management, with some patients expressing that
chiropractic treatment was the only effective treatment for their migraines. This
was despite their experience with different alternative therapies. Furthermore,
alternative and holistic therapies were sought wherever possible as an alternative
to pharmacological therapy. This study builds on the body of knowledge for
migraine management and supports the use of chiropractic treatment for migraine
management. Future studies should include more qualitative research studies on the
psychosocial impact of migraines amongst the female population. The impact of
menstruation, pregnancy and menopause on migraines should be further
investigated in other qualitative studies. A more detailed study should be
undertaken to ascertain the impact and efficacy of chiropractic treatment for
A dissertation submitted in partial compliance with the requirements for
the Master’s Degree in Technology: Chiropractic, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2022.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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