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Facts on Headaches!

SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE!

Did you know there are over 90 different types of headaches?  All headaches can be categorized into one of these three main groups.

Cervicogenic - Headaches that originate from the neck area usually involving joint restrictions and/or muscle tightness.

Migraines – Headaches that usually ranges from moderate to severe due to nervous system symptoms. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. Migraines can last for up to 72 hours.

Tension - Typically these headaches present bilaterally and are mild to moderate in intensity. These headaches are brought on by stress, sleep deprivation, bad posture, eye strain etc. Associated with muscle strains of the face and neck.

1. Title: Spinal Manipulation of Chronic Cervicogenic Headaches
Journal: The Spine Journal, July 2010
Author: Haas, Spegman et al.

The three preliminary headache categories are found in approximately 16% of the general population. The greatest portion of that 16% are categorized in the cervicogenic headache group. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of spinal adjustments for cervicogenic headache patients. The study reported that after 8 weeks of spinal adjusting the number of headaches per week reduced by 50%. Cervicogenic headache pain intensity, number of headaches and medications taken were also found to be reduced after spinal adjustment treatments. It was recognized that spinal adjustments also showed to be statistically and clinically more beneficial than light massage alone.

2. Title: Manual Therapy for Chronic Tension Type Headaches
Journal: Cephalagia, 2011
Author: Castien et al

This study compared the effectiveness of “manual therapy” vs “usual therapy” for patients suffering with chronic tension type headaches. Manual therapy consisted of thoracic (mid and upper back) and cervical (neck) mobilizations, exercise therapy and postural correction. Usual care patients were provided with reassurance and suggestions on lifestyle changes and if required prescription analgesics or NSAIDS delivered by GPs.

The study concluded that after 8 weeks of treatment patients receiving manual therapy showed significant improvements in frequency and pain intensity compared to patients receiving life counselling and medication. This study also states that there were no significant results for using medications in either group. Considering the negative side effects of many medications such as rebound headaches; patients may want to consider a more conservative approach.

3. Title: Manual Therapy for Migraine Type Headaches
Journal: Journal of Headache and Pain, 2011.
Author: Chaibi, Tuchin.

In the past migraines have been treated with medication and modification of diet and lifestyle triggers. Patients are now beginning to look for a more conservative approach to manage their headaches. This review paper looked at many studies and the efficacy of manual therapy. We will be discussing one study that looked at the effectiveness of spinal adjustments on migraine headaches. This American study included 218 patients that were diagnosed with migraine headaches. Subjects were treated for 2 months and then followed up a month later. It was found that chiropractic spinal adjustments as well as physiotherapy and massage were just as efficient at managing migraines as medications such as propranolol and topiramate which have been used as a prophylactic for migraine headaches. It comes as no surprise that patients are looking for a more natural approach to manage their headache symptoms in order to avoid negative side effects from commonly used medications.

4. Title: Headaches in children: Update on complimentary treatments.
Journal: Neuropediatrics, 2013
Author: Schetzek Heinen et al.

This is a review study that looked at the efficacy of some alternative therapies such as spinal adjustments in treating childhood headaches. As many parents and medical doctors are hesitant to give children headache medications many are now turning to complementary and alternative medicine. Literature has shown that spinal adjusting has been very effective in the treatment of tension type headaches as well as preventing migraine type headaches. On post treatment follow up it was found that spinal manipulation was the most effective in reducing headaches in children. Articles used for this review were from Sept 1992 to sept 2012 found in the MEDLINE and Cochrane Library.

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