Dealing With Migraine or Tension Headaches?
After back and neck pain, headaches are one of the most common reasons that patients seek out chiropractic care. It’s no surprise, as 90% of Americans suffer from tension headaches or migraine headaches at some point in their lives.
There are a variety of techniques and modalities that chiropractors commonly use to treat headaches, including spinal adjustments, joint mobilization, massage therapy, targeted stretches and exercises, and soft-tissue modalities. Most of the available research regarding the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for headaches focuses on just one type of headache or a specific treatment method.
However, very few systematic reviews have compared the overall efficacy of the various techniques employed by chiropractors for treating headache symptoms. For example, do tension headaches respond best to spinal manipulations? Will a patient suffering from migraines require more exercise therapy compared to patients with other types of headaches?
The Case For Chiropractic Treatment Over Alternative Treatment Options
In an attempt to answer these questions, a group of Canadian researchers looked to develop evidence-based guidelines for chiropractors to use in treating headaches. They conducted an extensive review of controlled clinical trials on the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for headaches published through August of 2009.
The authors of the review noted a need for further clinical trials involving patients with headaches in order to confirm their findings, however the evidence that was available suggests that chiropractic treatment, including spinal manipulation, does indeed help with the symptoms of most headaches. Using this knowledge, the researchers were able to develop recommendations for treatment based on the type of headache.
To treat chronic or episodic migraine-type headaches, spinal adjustments in conjunction with multimodal interventions (such as massage) were determined to be most effective. There was evidence that spinal adjustments could be clinically effective for tension-type headaches as well, although they noted more research needed to be done to confirm this recommendation. Low-load craniocervical mobilization was also shown to provide long-term relief for patients experiencing chronic or episodic tension headaches. They recommended spinal adjustments for cervicogenic (originating from the neck) headaches and noted that deep neck flexor exercises and joint mobilization also improved symptoms associated with this type headaches.
The Big Picture
While each individual patient has unique symptoms and needs, these guidelines show that chiropractic care can be effective for all type of headaches.
In previous clinical studies, researchers found that those with cervicogenic headaches experienced significant reductions in frequency and intensity after receiving chiropractic treatment or a treatment plan that combined chiropractic and targeted exercises. In another recent study, patients suffering from migraines who began receiving chiropractic care had a 90% reduction in their symptoms.
The Ascent Chiropractic Advantage
Chiropractic care at Ascent Chiropractic offers a safe and effective way of preventing and in many cases eliminating headache symptoms for our patients in Brookfield, New Berlin & surrounding areas. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Bryans R, Descarreaux M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2011; 34(5):274-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008.