Most of us have or will experience a headache sometime in our life. Still a large group of the population experience frequent debilitating headaches which last hours to days. These headaches are often grouped as migraines but may actually be cerviogenic or severe tension headaches. Cerviogenic headaches are musculoskeletal (dealing with the muscles, bones, and supporting soft tissues) in nature. They occur when a cervical vertebrae is subluxated and causes the nerves exiting the vertebrae to be pushed on and excited. Subluxated cervical vertebrae can also cause muscles to spasm in the base of the head and neck which slow or entrap blood flow which can cause headaches with very localized pain such as behind the eyes or just in the back of the head. Doctors of chiropractic treat the cause of these problems not just the symptoms having good success in reducing the frequency and duration of the condition.

Migraines can have multiple different causes, including hormones, food sensitivities, and stress. Integrative Medicine, and specific dietary changes can help to identify and eliminate the root cause of the migraine. We often suggest that our patients keep a food and headache diary to help track potential triggers of oncoming migraines.

Headaches can also be signs of more serious disorders and you should seek emergency care if your headache is very sudden and severe or follows a blow to the head. If your headache is accompanied by confusion, loss of consciousness, convulsions, fever, or sudden severe vomiting this is also an emergency.

The 1996 RAND Corp. study by Ian Coulter, The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine, found that spinal manipulation had effects similar to medications in relieving headaches, neck pain, and tension type headaches. While, Boline P. as authored in 1995 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (vol 18, no .3:148-154) in his article Spinal Manipulation vs. Amitriptyline for the Treatment of Chronic Tension-Type Headaches: A Randomized Clinical Trial found that though pain reduction was similiar to the drug chiropractic care offered decreased frequency and reduction in medication use while increasing functional health while the drug group remained constant in these areas.

Further research may be found in:

  • Journal of the American Medical Association Nov 11 1998 vol 280, no. 18:1576-79. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of episodic tension-type headache
  • Journal of Manipulative and physiological Therapeutics 1998 vol 21, no. 8:511-19. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for prophylaxis of migraine headache
  • Journal of Manipulative and physiological Therapeutics 1997 vol 20, no. 5:326-30. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache.
  • Journal of Manipulative and physiological Therapeutics 1994 vol 17, no. 3:156-66. The tension headache, migraine headache continuum: a hypothesis.

Further Research Studies in Low Back Pain Supporting Chiropractic as First Choice in Treatment:

  • Van Tubler M. Conservative treatment of acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain: a systemic review of randomized controlled trials of the most common interventions. Spine vol 22. no 18:2128-56.
  • Shekelle P. The use and costs of chiropractic care in the health insurance experiment. Santa Monica: Rand Corp.
  • Shekelle P. Spinal Manipulation for low-back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine 1992. vol 117. no 7:590-98.
  • Shekelle P. The appropriateness of spinal manipulation for low back pain: project overview and literature review. 1991 Santa Monica: Rand Corp.
  • Shekelle P. Congruence between decisions to initiate chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain and appropriateness criteria in north america. 1998 Annal of Internal Medicine. vol 129. no 1:9-17.
  • Bigos S. Acute low back problems in adults: clinical practice guidelines No. 14 Rockville: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Erhard R. Relative effectiveness of an extension program and a combined program of manipulation and flexion and extension exercises in patients with acute low back syndrome. 1994 Physical Therapy vol 74. no. 12:1093-1100.
  • Bronfort G. Spinal manipulation: current state of research and its indications. 1999 Neurologic Clinics of North America. vol 17 no. 1:91-111.

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