If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

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.). Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern. About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by more serious physical problems.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, fourteen percent of the patients who see chiropractors regularly go for relief of headaches. As a chiropractor, I believe this number would be greatly increased if more people understood the origins of their headache. Until recently, the medical understanding of headaches has not taken into account the chiropractic model, thus its importance has been undervalued.

Cervico-genic headaches

Noted researcher Nikolai Bogduk, MD, PhD, professor of anatomy at Newcastle, Australia, commented that…

  • “The concept that headache pain can emanate from cervical spine dysfunction is still completely foreign to most of the medical profession. The people in control of the headache field seemingly have not, cannot, or will not, recognize this paradox ... that the model for cervicogenic (caused by the neck) headache is not only the best evolved of all headaches but is testable in patients with headache complaints.”

  • Several years ago, a Canadian anesthesiologist, Peter Rothbart, MD, FRCPC, came to the same conclusions about cervicogenic headache. Dr. Rothbart made many observations in his own pain management practice which subsequently led to an article in the Toronto Star, the most widely read newspaper in Canada. The Toronto Star article, "A Pain in the Neck," was subtitled: "Chiropractors were right.” In this article he states…

  • “Many headaches are caused by damaged structures in the neck -- and scientific evidence proves it."

  • Further more, in 1995 a team of MDs at Syracuse University established neck problems as the cause of many headaches with scientific, anatomical proof. The team was able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches -- not all headaches, but a significant number of them. Their conclusion included…

  • "It's true that chiropractors have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, many medical) doctors tend to have a jaundiced view of chiropractors, but they were right about headaches."

The Chiropractic Remedy –

The chiropractic concept or model to treat headaches is fairly straight forward. The goal is to remove pressure and irritation on the nerves in the neck caused when spinal segments are misaligned and unable to move properly, and to reduce muscle tension in the neck muscles and in those originating in the back of the head. This model has proven to be effective with a good percentage of patients with headaches.

If your headache is not a “structural” issue, but related to other factors such as food or environmental issues, we will do our best to determine the cause and advise you accordingly. In the case of a more serious pathological issue, we will promptly refer you to a select medical specialist in the area for further evaluation.

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