Headache

headachereliefThere are many causes of headache, and nearly everyone has been affected by a headache at one time or another. Some headaches are mild and brief, and others can be severe, long-lasting and debilitating. While there are many types of headache, three common types include:

  • Muscle Tension Headache
  • Cervicogenic headache
  • Migraine

Muscle Tension Headache

Muscle tension headaches are the most common form of headache, often characterized by a band like sensation of pain around the head. These can be both acute and episodic, or chronic and recurrent. They are sometimes described as a consequence of stress, though there are many other causes. Often they are brought on by poor posture habits, or stress. They are usually the result of sustained contraction of the muscles in the neck or head. Chiropractic care, including manipulation, therapy, ergonomic and postural advice, as well as dietary recommendations have been shown to be effective in the management of muscle tension headaches.1, 4

Cervicogenic Headache

These refer to headaches stemming from the structures of the neck which then refer pain to the head along certain nerve pathways. Cervicogenic headaches are frequently associated with problems involving the upper portion of the neck and are common following motor vehicle “whiplash” injuries. 5

Dysfunction of the upper neck may include reduced motion of the joints of the neck among other clinical findings. Doctors of Chiropractic are trained to evaluate for these conditions, and chiropractic care, including adjustments/ manipulation, therapy, ergonomic and postural advice, as well as dietary recommendations have been shown to be effective in reducing frequency and intensity of headaches.1-5

Migraine Headache

Migraine headaches affect millions of people every year, usually women. They can be severe and debilitating, and are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Some sufferers experience an “aura” prior to the onset of the headache which may include visual changes such as flashing lights or blind spots, or other sensations such as strange smells or tastes.

Migraine headaches can be triggered by stress, certain foods, menstruation and various other triggers.

Migraines usually begin as a dull pain that progressively worsens, and is usually more pronounced on one side of the head. Migraines can last for hours to days, and usually leave the sufferer feeling spent.

There are many different types of migraine headache. Chiropractic treatment has been shown to be an effective treatment for many patients with migraine.3-4


  1. The effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of headache: an exploration in the literature. Vernon H T;J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Nov–Dec; 18(9): 611–617
  2. Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache Duke University Evidence-based Practice Center, Center for Clinical Health Policy Research 2200 W. Main Street, Suite 230 Durham, NC 27705
  3. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. P J Tuchin, H Pollard, R Bonello.;J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000 February; 23(2): 91–95.
  4. Evidence-Based Guidelines for the Chiropractic Treatment of Adults with Headaches. Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranlee M, et al; J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jun; 34 (5):274-284.
  5. Cervicogenic Headache: A Review of Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies. Biondi D; JAOA . 2005 Apr;105 (4)_suppl :16-22

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