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What kinds of headaches are there?

More than 90 percent of headaches can be classified as tension-type, migraine or cervicogenic.

By far, most people get tension-type headaches and get them frequently. They typically suffer mild to moderate pain, on both sides of the head, that is often described as tight, stiff, and constricting – like having something wrapped around your head and pressed tightly.

Migraines are periodic severe, throbbing headaches that afflict more women than men, and can cause loss of appetite, nausea and even vomiting. They usually hurt on one side of the head and may involve a visual change called an aura.

Conversely, cervicogenic headache is a musculoskeletal form of tension-type headache, which may also be related to migraines. Many times, cervicogenic headache goes undiagnosed as such due to the relative newness of this classification.

Who suffers from headaches?

Many millions of adults, worldwide, get headaches regularly. Headaches are among the most common physical complaints prompting people to treat themselves or get professional assistance. One estimate holds that some 50 million people in the U.S. get severe, long-lasting, recurring headaches. Most headaches are not signs of serious underlying conditions, but they can be very distracting, debilitating and account for significant amounts of time lost from work.

What should I be concerned about?

If you are a headache sufferer, your obvious concern is to obtain safe, dependable relief. You should avoid making things worse by using drugs – even over-the-counter, nonprescription drugs – that can have serious side effects and dangerous interactions with other medications or supplements you take. You should also be aware that many people experience what are termed "analgesic rebound headaches" from taking painkillers every day, or nearly every day. Use caution, as the medicine you take to get rid of today's headache may give you a headache tomorrow and the days after.

What can chiropractic do?

Chiropractors have had considerable success relieving the cause of headache pain and releasing headache sufferers from the dangerous, vicious circle of taking ever-larger doses of ever-stronger painkillers that may be causing new and worse headaches.

Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be as effective and even more effective than medications in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches. Chiropractic is particularly successful dealing with cervicogenic headache. Even though cervicogenic and other tension-type headaches may not actually involve stress or muscle tension, chiropractic's ability to adjust spinal abnormalities seems to lessen or remove the forces contributing to many individualspi headache pain.


If you suffer from migraines, you're certainly not alone. They're relatively common, affecting an estimated 10% of the population. What can be done to get rid of migraines? According to a recent study, chiropractic care may hold the answer.

One hundred and twenty-seven migraine patients having(at least one migraine per month) were divided into two groups for comparison. Group 1 received chiropractic adjustments at specific vertebral subluxations determined by the treating practitioner; group 2 served as controls and received inactive treatment (electrical stimulation with no current delivered). Subjects receiving chiropractic adjustments reported substantial improvement in migraine frequency, duration, disability, and medication use following two months of treatment. One in five participants reported a 90% reduction in migraines, and half reported significant improvement in migraine severity.

Are you tired of migraine headaches ruining your day? With conventional over-the-counter medications proving less than effective (and often accompanied by dangerous side effects), it's time to fight the pain from another angle. To find out more about the potential benefits of chiropractic care, schedule an appointment with your doctor of chiropractic.


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  • Zwart J. Neck Mobility in different headache disorders. Headache, Jan. 1997; vol. 37, pp6-11.
  • Nilsson N, Christiansen HW, Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, June 1997;vol. 20, no. 5, pp326-30.
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  • Nelson CF. The Tension Headache, Migraine Headache Continuum: A Hypothesis. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, March/April 1994; vol. 17, no. 3, pp156-66.
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