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According to recent research, patients who received chiropractic adjustments had 50% headache relief of cervicogenic type headaches (i.e due to the neck) they experienced.
Cervicogenic headaches are felt at the back of the head, with pain shooting downwards from the neck and to between the shoulder blades. Some patients may also feel dizziness. These headaches are caused by dysfunction in the joints of the neck (i.e the cervical spine).
This study also showed that chiropractic treatments can reduce the number of such headaches. Previous research has also shown that chiropractic treatments can alleviate both the disability and the pain resulting from these cervicogenic headaches.
The study involved 80 people with chronic cervicogenic headaches. Patients received either light soft tissue work9i.e massage) or chiropractic adjustments. Within each group, half had a higher frequency of treatment, while the other half of the patients received less treatments. The massage treatments consisted of several minutes of neck and shoulder massage, while the chiropractic treatments consisted of high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustments of the upper back and neck.
Those patients who had the chiropractic treatments improved substantially more than those who had only massage. On average, chiropractic patients had their headaches halved. At the conclusion of the study, chiropractic patients required 1/3 less pain medication than at the start, and reported a 50% reduction in symptoms.
The researchers found no major differences between patients receiving 8 chiropractic treatments and those who received 16 treatments, other than those who received more treatments did have more improvements in terms of neck disability. More studies are required to determine the optimum number of chiropractic treatments, but the researchers concluded that chiropractic adjustments are an effective method of treating cervicogenic headaches. Research shows that chiropractic can also relieve migraine headaches.
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.