Chiropractic & Headaches in colorado Springs CO
A special thanks to Todd Adams, D.C., a Colorado Springs, CO Chiropractor, for providing this article.
If you suffer from headaches of any kind one of the best things you can do is have a chiropractic spinal checkup. According to research headaches can originate in the upper cervical spine. Chiropractic is a safe, gentle, effective approach that has helped millions of headache sufferers over the years. Our job as chiropractors is to adjust the spine to allow for better movement of the joints and free up nerve interference and allow the body to work better.
Headaches come in 2 different types a Primary and Secondary. Primary headaches account for 94% of all headaches and are made up of tension and stress which make up 78% followed by migraines which compromise 16%. The secondary headaches only account for 6% which are underlying pathologies like a patient having a tumor. So according to the research most headaches can be related to biomechanical problems in the upper cervical spine. They can be called cervicogenic headaches and are best treated by chiropractic adjustments.
The purpose of chiropractic spinal adjustment is to remove the nerve and spinal stress caused by the subluxation. This permits the body to restore itself to a greater level of health and allows the body to work better and help heal itself.
Researchers have looked at the relationship between the spine and cervicogenic headaches. One study of 6,000 long-term headache sufferers from two years to twenty-five years revealed that neck injuries like whiplash and falls were the most important factor in the cause of the headaches and should be suspected in every nonspecific case of headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are four times more prevalent in women than men. Patients with cervicogenic headaches can have altered neck posture and restricted cervical ranges of motion, which is what chiropractors are specifically trained to look for and help with.
The following are characteristics of cervicogenic headaches, they are unilateral and don’t change sides, the headache will start in the neck and spreads forward. Posture and movement can trigger the headaches, they can be associated with shoulder and arm pain. The headache severity will most likely be mild to moderate in intensity. A history of indirect neck trauma like a whiplash and the pain can last hours to days. Dr. Nikolai Bogduk, in the Anatomical Basis of Cervicogenic headache states that “By definition cervicogenic headache is a pain in the head whose source lies somewhere in the cervical spine” that is why it is so important to have the cervical spine examined and treated by a chiropractor. Dr. Grunnet-Nilsson DC, MD, PhD found research supporting that a “6-8 week course of spinal manipulation will significantly improve headache frequency, intensity and medication use, which will positively affect almost all headache outcome variables.
Migraine headaches are also associated with the upper cervical spine. Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Just like cervicogenic headaches, migraine headaches will also start in the upper cervical spine and have many triggers. In a research article published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in 2000 called “A Random Controlled Trial of Chiropractic of Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Migraine” a randomized control trial of 6 months of duration, used 123 subjects with a minimum of 1 migraine a month. The majority of subjects had migraines for 18 years and were considered chronic in nature. The study had 83 patients receive manipulation and 40 were in a control group. The intervention was 2 months of chiropractic diversified treatment with a maximum of 16 visits. The control group received interferential treatment, which consisted of electrodes being placed on the patient with no current sent through the machine.
According to the paper “22% of the participants reported more than a 90% reduction of Migraines as a consequence of the 2 months of spinal manipulation therapy”. Also “the results demonstrated a significant reduction in migraine episodes and the associated disability”. One of the bigger findings from the study was “The greatest area of improvement was reduced medication use and a significant number of participants recorded that their medication use had reduced to zero by the end of the 6- month trail”. This study supports the concept that improvement of the mechanical function of the upper cervical with cervical manipulation is effective and a safe intervention for patients suffering for migraine and cervicogenic headaches. The benefits of chiropractic spinal manipulation are not only that it is effective and safe, but that is reduces problems associated with pharmacological treatment.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about this subject of headaches is that as a child I suffered from sometimes debilitating headaches. The headaches would come out of nowhere and the only help would be for me to lay down in a dark room and not come out for the rest of the day.
As a kid it is awful to stop playing because that is all you want to do. Medications and aspirin never seemed to help. It wasn’t until high school that I finally went to a Chiropractor and my headaches were gone after that and that is one of the reasons I became a Chiropractor. I am passionate about helping people live a higher quality of life through natural chiropractic care
By Dr. Todd Adams, D.C.