Being able to think clearly and calmly allows us to make decisions, process emotions, and carry on with our day-to-day lives. That clarity can be easily destroyed with a strong headache. Many people have occasional headaches, but frequent headaches that affect your ability to sleep or get on with your day can be disabling.
Different types of headaches
Common types of headaches are tension, migraine, and cervicogenic headaches.
Tension-type headaches commonly present as band-like tension around the head, whereas migraine headaches usually result in pain on one side of the head and are commonly accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.
With cervicogenic headaches, the neck is the source of the problem but the pain is perceived in one or more areas of the head and/or face. The causes of headaches are not always well understood but a family history of headaches, neck stiffness, and stress are common factors.
How can chiropractors help with headaches?
Chiropractors can assess, diagnose, and manage headaches. Evidence suggests that chiropractic care, including manual therapy, can be effective in treating cervicogenic and tension headaches.1 Studies have also shown that chiropractic care can help decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines.1 The treatment options may include:
- Manual therapy
- Soft tissue therapy
- Modalities including electrical stimulation, acupuncture, and ultrasound
- Lifestyle changes and education
- Referral and co-management
It’s important to take headaches seriously. Consider consulting a chiropractor if you often have headaches, if you frequently take a pain reliever for your headaches, if your headache pattern changes, or if your headaches are getting worse. Seek prompt attention if your headache is sudden and severe, follows a head injury, or is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking.
1. Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, Marcoux H, Potter B, Ruegg R, Shaw L, Watkin R, White E. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011;34(5):274-89.