Will Chiropractic Care Help with Headaches?

Headaches, Pain Relief

Headaches come when we least expect them and almost always are unwelcome! The most common practice in the United States to treat headaches is to take a couple over-the-counter pain relievers and hope it works to relieve the pain. However, over-the-counter pain relievers may help some yet leave others, like chronic headache sufferers, without any pain relief at all. Over-the-counter pain relievers are associated with liver and kidney damage along with other serious side effects if too many are taken. Good news though, chiropractic offers a drug and pill free treatment option to relieve those debilitating headaches.

What kind of headaches do you experience?

The three most common headaches are Tension, Cluster, and Migraines.

Tension headache: A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. A tension headache (tension-type headache) is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren’t well-understood. Treatments for tension headaches are available.

Cluster Headaches: Headaches that occur in patterns or clusters. Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, may last from weeks to months, usually followed by long periods of relief (remission). During remission, attacks may stop for months or years. Pain is severe on one side of the head, accompanied by symptoms such as nasal discharge, or red or tearing eyes.

Migraine Headaches: A headache of varying intensity, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine headaches are sometimes preceded by warning symptoms. Triggers include hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, stress, and exercise. Migraine headaches can cause throbbing in one particular area that can vary in intensity. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound are also common symptoms.

How can a chiropractor treat headaches, you may ask?

Several treatments are available and can include the following:

Spinal Manipulation: Manipulation relieves pressure on your joints, realigns your spine, improves blood flow, and helps relax tight muscles. Your chiropractor uses his or her hands or an activator to apply quick, forceful pressure to the vertebrae. Spinal manipulation is particularly helpful if nerve irritation triggers your migraines or cluster headaches. Manipulation relieves pressure on your nerves, easing your pain and reducing the frequency of your headaches.

Spinal Mobilization: Spinal mobilization involves gentle, hands-on pressure that stretches your spine, improves joint function, and helps ease tension in the muscles between the vertebrae. Since tense muscles can be an issue no matter what type of headache you experience, mobilization can be very effective.

Massage: Massage is often included in treatment plans for headaches. The therapy loosens tight muscles, improves range of motion, increases blood flow, and may help reduce the frequency of your headaches. Regular massages also reduce stress, which can be a factor if you get tension headaches.

Flexion-Distraction Therapy: This therapy is performed on a segmented table that moves or drops as your chiropractor gently manipulates your vertebrae. Flexion-distraction therapy reduces stiffness, improves range of motion in your back and neck, and may even help decrease the number of headaches you get every month.

Your treatment plan might include a few other types of therapy, including ice and heat therapy, ultrasound treatment, or electrotherapy. Improving your posture and strengthening the muscles that support your head and neck may also be helpful. Your chiropractor can recommend exercises, make suggestions that will help you improve your posture, and provide advice about a healthy diet.

Is Chiropractic Treatment Effective?

In a case study that was published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, researchers discussed the case of a 31-year-old patient whose migraines become chronic after two pregnancies. After chiropractic treatment, she experienced fewer migraines. During the 10th month, she reported no headaches during the entire month.

Another case study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care examined the case of a 44-year old woman who suffered from daily headaches that didn’t respond to pain medication. During her treatment, spinal manipulation, ultrasound, and other therapies were utilized. After three months of treatment, her headache pain began to subside. The pain was completely eliminated by six months.

Are you tired of living with headache or migraine pain? We can help you control your symptoms naturally. Contact us to schedule an appointment.


American Chiropractic Association: Headaches and Chiropractic


NCBI: Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care: Long-Term Relief from Tension-Type Headache and Major Depression Following Chiropractic Treatment, May/June 2018


Global Advances in Health and Medicine: Integrating Chiropractic Care into the Treatment of Migraine Headaches in a Tertiary Care Hospital: A Case Series, 3/28/19

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