Headache Research

Effectiveness of Chiropractic for Headaches

A randomized controlled trial performed by chiropractic researchers reports chiropractic manipulation has significant success in the management of patients with cervicogenic headache. Specifically, a significant positive effect in reducing hours with headache, and intensity of headache, and analgesic consumption. Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J, The effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache, JMPT 1997;20:326–330

Duke University Report

The most recent independent, interdisciplinary, expert evidence review firmly concludes. manipulation is effective in patients with cervicogenic headache.McCrory DC, Penzien DB et al. (2001) Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension–Type and Cervicogenic Headache, Des Moines, Iowa, Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research. Product No. 2085.

New Anatomical Link Provides Better Insight Into Cervicogenic Headache

Dental researchers Hack and Koritzer discovered bridges of connective tissue between the posterior muscles and the dura in the upper cervical spine. Spinal manipulation as a treatment for tension headache is predicated upon the assumption that dysfunction in the neck muscles contributes to the head pain; in the US more than 90% of such procedures are performed by chiropractors. The muscle-dura connection may represent – at least in part – the underlying anatomic basis for the effectiveness of this treatment. Such treatment, as performed by a chiropractor, could decrease muscle tension and thereby reduce or eliminate pain by reducing the potential forces exerted on the dura via the muscle-dura connection. It is interesting to note that surgeons who have severed this connection as part of some other surgical procedure have found that at least some of their patients experience fewer chronic headaches afterward. This would support the concept that neck muscles may pull on the sensitive dura via the newly described connection and thereby produce the pain. Hack GD, Koritzer RT et al (1995) Anatomic Relation Between the Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor Muscle and the Dura Mater, Spine 20(23):2484–2486. Hack DG, Dunn G et al (1998) The Anatomist’s New Tools, 1998 Medical and Health Annual, 16–29, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., Chicago, Illinois.

Headache Information Articles

Intractable Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy Under Chiropractic Care

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2009 (Nov); 15 (4): 192–7

The absence of hormone fluctuations and/or the analgesic effects of increased beta–endorphins are thought to confer improvements in headache symptoms during pregnancy. However, for a number of pregnant patients, they continue to suffer or have worsening headache symptoms. The use of pharmacotherapy for palliative care is a concern for both the mother and the developing fetus and alternative/complementary care options are sought. We present a 24-year-old gravid female with chronic migraine headaches since age 12years. Previous unsuccessful care included osteopathy, physical therapy, massage and medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication with codeine provided minor and temporary relief. Chiropractic care involving spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and adjunctive therapies resulted in symptom improvement and independence from medication. This document provides supporting evidence on the safety and possible effectiveness of chiropractic care for patients with headaches during pregnancy.

Dose Response and Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Cervicogenic Headache: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

The Spine Journal 2009 (Oct 15) [Epub ahead of print]

Eighty patients with chronic cervicogenic headache (CGH) were randomized to receive either 8 or 16 treatment sessions with either chiropractic care (Spinal Manipulation or SMT) or a minimal light massage (LM) as the control group. Both SMT groups improved much more than the control groups, with greater improvements in the group that received more care. You may also enjoy this PowerPoint Presentation by the authors of this study.

Recurrent Neck Pain and Headaches in Preadolescents Associated with Mechanical Dysfunction of the Cervical Spine: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study With 131 Students

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009 (Oct); 32 (8): 625–634

Forty percent of the children (n = 52) reported neck pain and/or recurrent headache. Neck pain and/or headache were not associated with forward head posture, impaired functioning in cervical paraspinal muscles, and joint dysfunction in the upper and middle cervical spine in these subjects. However, joint dysfunction in the lower cervical spine was significantly associated with neck pain and/or headache in these preadolescents. Most of the students had nonsymptomatic biomechanical dysfunction of the upper cervical spine. There was a wide variation between parental report and the child’s self-report of trauma history and neck pain and/or headache prevalence.

Recurrent Neck Pain and Headaches in Preadolescents Associated with Mechanical Dysfunction of the Cervical Spine: A Cross–Sectional Observational Study With 131 Students

Neurology 2006 (Jan 24); 66 (2): 193–197

Chronic daily headache (CDH) was common in a large nonreferred adolescent sample. Based on the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition, criteria, chronic tension-type headache was the most common subtype; Although this article does not discuss care options for chronic tension–type headache, conservative chiropractic care is the natural choice.

Upper Crossed Syndrome and Its Relationship to Cervicogenic Headache

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004 (Jul); 27 (6): 414–420

The principles of upper crossed syndrome and the use of exercise, chiropractic care, and myofascial release in the treatment of cervicogenic headache are discussed. A review of the literature indicates that analyzing muscle imbalance as well as vertebral subluxation may increase the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for cervicogenic headache.

Upper Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Cervicogenic Headache in an 8–Year–Old

J Neuromusculoskeletal System 2002 (Fall); 10 (3): 98–103

A case of cervicogenic headache (CEH) in an 8–year–old boy that improved after chiropractic spinal manipulation is reported. A significant decrease in headache frequency as reported by the patient and parent was seen after the first treatment. After four treatments the headache frequency decreased to approximately one per month. The patient was followed for 2 months after termination of care and reported headache frequency of approximately two per month. There is evidence that spinal manipulation is effective in the treatment of CEH in adults.

Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension–type and Cervicogenic Headache


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