Chiropractic and Headaches

If you experience headaches, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from them. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away?

There is a better alternative.

How Chiropractic Factors

Research shows that spinal manipulation—one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic—may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.  A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain. Increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used.

Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal adjustments, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.

Triggers For Headaches

Chiropractic and headaches are not as inseparable as you might think.Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About five percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining ninety-five percent are primary headaches such as tension, migraine, or cluster. These types are not caused by disease—the headache itself is the primary concern.

The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp, causing your head to ache.

What Can You Do Now For Your Headaches?

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) offers the following suggestions to prevent headaches:

  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, or typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should include taking your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve pain associated with primary headaches; if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches then you should avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
  • Avoid teeth-clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)—the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull—leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.

What Can A Doctor of Chiropractic Do For You?

I may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:

  • Perform spinal chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B-complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques.

This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back. As you know, I had extensive training to help you beyond just treatment for low-back pain, back pain in general, or neck pain. I know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and I can take steps to relieve those problems. Don’t resist coming in just because “it’s not a back problem”—you might find it is.


Dr. Scott Cabazolo

(540) 622-6400
112 East 6th Street
Front Royal, VA 22630

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