Chiropractors and headaches: Can a chiro help?
Last updated on October 4, 2023
The good news is YES, chiropractic can help with headaches.
A headache is a general term used to describe pain or discomfort anywhere in the head. Most people will get headaches from time to time. Most headaches respond well to chiropractic care, lifestyle changes and relevant rehab and stretches.
Here are the 3 most common headaches
- Tension type headaches Tension type headaches are the most common form of headache. A tension headache can be mild to moderately painful and usually presents itself behind both eyes or around the temples and can be described as ‘wearing a tight hat’ or ‘a tight band’ around your head. Tension headaches can be caused by stressors, dehydration, activities and foods.
- Cervicogenic headaches Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate in the neck but radiate into the head. They are a secondary headache due underlying neck dysfunction. Cervicogenic headaches can be mild to severe and are usually felt on one side of the head, coming up from the top of the neck and wrapping around the top of the head. Underlying neck dysfunction that can cause this type of headache can include; subluxation (joint dysfunction) of the C2 and C3 vertebrae as well as irritated muscles including the SCM, upper trapezius and suboccipital.
s. When treating cervicogenic headaches, it is important to identify the underlying cause.
- Migraine Migraines are a neurological condition that can cause a whole host of symptoms including; headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, difficulty speaking, numbness and tingling. Migraines are intense and can be extremely debilitating. The headache associated with a migraine is usually felt on one side of the head (usually behind one eye) and is often throbbing or pulsing in nature. For some people a warning signal called an ‘aura’ will come on before or during a migraine. An ‘aura’ can be a visual disturbance of flashing lights, a jagged line or blind spots. Common triggers for migraines can include; food or drink intolerances, stress, lack of sleep and hormonal changes in women.
When should I call an ambulance?
Occasionally headaches can be very serious and require immediate medical attention. These headaches can be from an underlying cause such as meningitis or stroke. Call 000 if you have had a headache and;
- has suddenly come on and is severe in nature.
- If you have suffered a head injury
- If you have the 5d’s or 4 n’s – dizziness, diplopia (double vision), drop attacks (loss of power), dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), dysarthria (difficulty speaking). – nausea, nystagmus (eyes beating) or other neurological symptoms.
- If you have a fever (above 38 degrees)
- If you have a new rash
- If your arms or legs feel numb
- If you have nausea and vomiting (not related to hangover or migraine)
- If you have difficulty seeing or speaking.
How can chiropractic help with headaches?
Chiropractors can help assess, diagnose and manage headaches. Chiropractic adjustments can be effective in treating tension type headaches and cervicogenic headaches. Studies have also shown that chiropractic care can help reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.
Treatment for headaches with a chiropractor will often include; manual and low force chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue techniques, stretches, rehabilitation and lifestyle advice.