What are Headaches ?

Headaches are a pain that is experience on the head, They may be behind the eye , at the back of the head, front of the head or side of the head.

Headaches can feel like a throbbing pain, a sharp pain or like a squeezing pressure .

Who suffers from headaches?

Headaches can be experienced by all ages, however they are more likely to be identified after the age of 5. Children who have migraines may present with stomach pain.

What is one of the most common types of headache?

Cervicogenic headache is a headache originating from the neck (cervical spine). It is a headache accompanying neck pain or stiffness. It usually starts at the back of the skull and migrates to the top of the head. It may be aggravated by certain head postures or pressing on muscles around the neck.

Why your neck being out of alignment may cause a headache?

The dura of the upper spinal cord, posterior fossa, upper neck muscles and upper cervical spine facet joints and nerves (C1-C3) join the trigeminal spinal nucleus. Nerves that supply sensation of the skin over your head also joins the trigeminal spinal nucleus. When the trigeminal spinal nucleus has irritated muscle and nerve structures of the upper cervical spinal going to it, the brain can interpret this irritation coming from the head, instead of the neck ( process called central sensitisation). This theory is supported by the fact that cortisone injection into upper cervical spinal nerves decreases headaches (1).

Cervicogenic headache is one of the most common headaches in weight lifting athletes, in those with poor posture and those who have suffered a whiplash injury or concussion injury with resulting neck pain(2).

How  Chiropractic treatment may help  cervicogenic Headaches?

Correcting spinal dysfunction and muscular imbalance , reduces the nerve irritation to the trigeminal spinal nucleus. With the irritation no longer present the brain stops interpreting it coming from the head and the headache disappears.

Several studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), demonstrates that “spinal manipulation has a significant positive effect in cases of cervicogenic headache.”(3-4)

Are there different types of headaches?

Yes there are different types of headaches, some of the common types include :

1. Tension Headache

Tension Headache is a form of cervicogenic headache: Tension headaches are the most common form of a headache. Tension headaches are a constant pressure like a tight band is stretched around your head. They usually lasts minutes to hours, but may progress over days. They are annoying ache but usually don’t stop you from completing your daily tasks.

Nine Studies evaluating chiropractic treatment for tension or migraine headaches found that chiropractic treatment worked as well as medications in preventing these headaches (5)

2. Migraine

Migraines are a more severe type of headache which can last from hours to days.  They are usually felt as a severe, throbbing pain behind the eye or at the front or side of the head. Migraines can be associated with increased sensitivity to light or sound, nausea and vomiting. They are usually relieved by a quiet dark room or going to bed.

Several clinical trials indicate that chiropractic treatment may help treat migraine headaches. In one study , 22% of those who received chiropractic manipulation reported more than a 90% reduction of attacks. Also, 49% reported a significant reduction of the intensity of each migraine (6).

In another study, people with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects (7).

3.Hormonal Headaches

Headaches in women may be caused by hormone changes and usually occur with the menstrual cycle. Hormonal headaches may also be caused by the contraceptive pill, menopause or pregnancy.

Some Other Causes Of Headache

  • A cold or Flu
  • Sinusitis
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (The Jaw)
  • drinking alcohol
  • A head injury.




  1. Anthony, M., Cervicogenic headache: prevalence and response to local steroid therapy. Clin Exp Rhematol, 2000. 18 p. 59-64.
  2. Rifat S.F., Moeller J.L.,Diagnosis and management of headache in weight – lifting athlete. Curt Sports Med Rep, 2003. 2(5): p 272-5
  3. Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997;20:326-30
  4. Hass, M, Croupp., Etal. Dose response for chiropractic care of chronic cervicogenic headache and associated neck pain: a randomized pilot study, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004 Nov-Dec;27(9):547-53.
  5. Migraine headache | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/migraine-headache#ixzz3gmEvm5Ug
  6. Tuchin PJ, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23(2):91-95.
  7. Astin JA., Ernst E. The effectiveness of spinal manipulation for the treatment of headache disorders: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Cephalagia. 2002;22(8):617-623.Source: Migraine headache | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/migraine-headache#ixzz3gmHDWHts
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