Dr. Ferris comments: There are numerous sutdies that report the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the treatment headaches. Clinically, it is rare for me to treat a patient with headaches and not see some improvement. As in many conditions, there are many different factors that can contribute to imbalance and the subsequent symptoms. In the case of headaches, one can have contributions from sinuses, hormones, chemical imbalances, nutritional (red wine, chocolate), and structural imbalances.
I often educate my patients that chiropractic care is uniquely effective in reducing the structural imbalances (misaligned spinal joints that irritate the nerves that go to the head) that lead to headaches and thus decrease the frequency or intensity of the headaches that may still occur if the other factors that I mentioned are present. What many people don’t realize is that there are many different techniques and post graduate education that a chiropractor can study. Some may choose to focus on pediatrics, pre/post pregnancy, sports injury, and in the case of headaches upper neck care.
It was reported in October of 2010 that 1 in 6 or 16.54% or approximately 45 million Americans get headaches yearly, with many people suffering daily. While the statistical numbers vary based upon your source of information, it can be agreed upon that headaches are very common and shared with Americans at an epidemic rate.
Taking into account that a single pill for many Americans can cost as much as $43, the overall cost to our economy totals billions of dollars and we need to focus on not the treatment of the effects, but the root of the cause.
While there are many types of headaches ranging from common headaches, migraine headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches and many more, the one thing to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “Normal Headache.” You are not supposed to get headaches as pain is an indicator of a problem and you body’s mechanism of letting you know something is wrong, go fix it.
One of the most common and less understood headaches is the “cervicogenic headache.” This is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain around the head that is associated with either the bony structures of the head or the muscles of the neck. This has also been associated with migraine headaches as 64% of migraine sufferers have reported associated neck pain/stiffness with their migraine attack; 31% experienced neck symptoms before and 93% during the headache phase and 31% during the recovery phase.Therefore cervicogenic headaches are also a component of the migraine headaches and can be treated.
One of the hallmarks of determining if there is a cervicogenic component of any headache is to change the position of your head and if you increase, activate or alter the pain pattern, there is a component. According to M. Haas, ET. Al. in 2010, spinal manipulative care (chiropractic adjustments) showed significant reduction in cervicogenic headaches of over 50% of the research group that lasted for 24 weeks, or the length of the study. The researchers used the 50% mark to determine validity and they reached their milestone and it lasted for 24 weeks, the length of the study. They also noted a decrease in over the counter medication during the 24 weeks of the study.
Haas also reported in 2010 that at 12 weeks 85% showed improvement with varying degrees of improvement ranging from 25% to 100% with similar findings at 24 weeks.
Chiropractic has been proven to reduce and in many instances totally eradicate headaches. The financial cost to headache sufferers for drugs is staggering along with loss of paychecks when unable to work, the disability costs to insurers and loss of production of workers to industry when their employees cannot perform their jobs on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.