Can chiropractors help with headaches and migraines?
Often people don’t realise a chiropractor can help their headaches. If you delve down into the causes of headaches it becomes clear that chiropractic treatment can indeed help in many headache cases.
Different types of headaches respond better than others, with migraines and cervicogenic (originating from the neck) headaches responding best.
Migraines are a category of severe headaches with multiple causes. The exact causes and triggers are not fully known, although stress, blood supply to the brain, and chemical changes in the body are known to play a part. Chiropractic treatment may not cure migraines, but research indicates that chiropractors can help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks. Chiropractic treatment of migraines has been shown to be as effective as the use of Amitriptyline, and with less reported side-effects.
The reason for this is unclear; however, one reason may be that chiropractic treatment can affect the physical (and psychological) manifestations of stress. Treating the causative factors of a migraine (83% of people state stress as their top migraine cause) has a positive outcome on the frequency, duration and severity of episodes, improving quality of life enormously. It is also known that a large proportion of people with migraines have complications in the neck, the treatment of which can relieve symptoms.
Other types of headaches chiropractors can treat are those labelled cervicogenic headaches. This means that a problem with the neck is a main contributory factor. You do not have to have neck pain to get cervicogenic headaches.
Joints, nerves and soft tissues within the neck and shoulders can all give rise to headaches. These headaches respond exceptionally well to treatment, often resolving within just a couple of sessions. Headaches caused by TMJ (jaw joint) problems also respond very well to treatment.
Diagnosing types of headache correctly is essential for effective treatment. GCC registered chiropractors have undertaken 5 years of full-time medical training and supervised practice in order to be able to do this safely and reliably.
If you see a chiropractor for your headaches they will use neurological, physical and orthopaedic tests in combination with your medical and case history to arrive at a diagnosis. Depending on findings, the chiropractor will then offer treatment or refer you to another specialist as appropriate.