Personal Interest – Headaches: Common but Not Normal


Headaches and Chiropractic

Can chiropractic care help reduce headaches?

Researchers at Duke University found that chiropractic adjustments resulted in almost immediate improvement in patients with tension headaches. These patients suffered significantly fewer side effects and had longer-lasting relief than from commonly prescribed medication. In addition, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that chiropractic patients had sustained therapeutic benefit four weeks after they had stopped chiropractic care.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that in one study, 22% of those who received chiropractic care reported more than a 90% reduction of migraine attacks. Also, 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine. In another study, one group was randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication, or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as the medication in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects. Other studies show that chiropractic care worked as well as medication in preventing tension and migraine headaches.

Types of Headaches

  • Tension Headaches are the most common type of headache. A tension headache is caused by muscle tightness of the neck, face and scalp. This type of headache is usually mild, steady and described as band-like around the head. Episodes are associated with fatigues, stress, depression and muscle spasms of the neck and upper back.
  • Sinus Headaches affect the area above the eyes (frontal sinuses) or below the eyes (maxillary sinuses). They often occur after an upper respiratory infection which blocks the sinuses,causes pain and tenderness. Symptoms are often worse when bending forward or laying down. This type of headache is often confused with a tension headache or migraine.
  • Migraine Headaches are recurring attacks that patients describe as a pulsing pain often on one side of the head or behind their eye. Migraine episodes can last from hours to days, cause nausea or sensitivity to light and sound. Triggers range from certain foods, anxietyor hormonal changes. They are more common in women, and are often preceded by flashing lights or zigzag lines in vision. Migraines used to be considered vascular in nature, but recent research shows that they are neurological in origin, related to a wave of nerve cell activity that sweeps across the brain.
  • Cluster Headaches usually occur on one side of the head or around the eyes. A cluster headache usually doesn’t last very long and is more common in men. As the name implies, they occur in a series or a group. Common symptoms are tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion, flushed face and a constricted pupil on the side of the headache.