According to recent research, chiropractic adjustments can reduce the frequency of cervicogenic headaches by half.
Cervicogenic headaches are steady, non-throbbing headaches felt at the back of the head, with pain radiating downwards through the neck and between the shoulder blades. In addition to pain, dizziness is a common symptom. Cervicogenic headaches are caused by, and named for, dysfunction in the cervical spine, which is the upper portion of the spinal column located in the neck.
Previous research demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic care at alleviating both pain and disability associated with cervicogenic headache. This study showed that chiropractic can also reduce the number of headaches patients suffer, suggesting spinal adjustment as an option for preventing this type of headache.
The study involved 80 people with chronic cervicogenic headaches. Participants were assigned to either chiropractic adjustments or light massage. The chiropractic treatments included high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustments of the upper back and neck. The massage therapy involved several minutes of gentle neck and shoulder massage.
The chiropractic group experienced significant improvements in headache pain, with far better outcomes than the massage group. Researchers also discovered that spinal adjustments reduced headache frequency by 50%. At the conclusion of the study, participants in the chiropractic group required one-third less pain medication than they had at the start, and they reported a 50% reduction in overall headache symptoms.
Within the cervical-spine-adjustment group, half of the patients received eight chiropractic sessions while the other half received 16 treatments. The only difference the researchers found between the two treatment plans was that the longer duration of therapy resulted in slightly better improvements in neck disability. While more research is needed to determine the ideal number of treatments, the researchers concluded that chiropractic adjustments are an effective method of treating cervicogenic headaches.
Do you suspect you might have cervicogenic headaches? No matter what type of headache you suffer from, Dr. Geary Michels can help you. Call our Salem office at (503)-399-7607 to learn more.
Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal 2010; 10: 117-128.