As a DC, you likely see a number of patients who have frequent, chronic headaches.
And when their head hurts regularly and consistently over time, tending to life’s obligations can feel extremely difficult, if not almost impossible. While some of these chronic headaches are a result of tension, stress, or even migraines, there is another type of headache that can be to blame, and it is the a cervicogenic headache.
The American Migraine Foundation defines a cervicogenic headache as a headache which is caused by “a neck disorder or lesion.” This means that, in order to cure this specific kind of headache effectively, you must first address the original neck issue responsible for creating the pain to begin with. This is often where chiropractic can help and there are many studies that confirms this course of treatment.
One study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics involved 24 individuals who all suffered from chronic cervicogenic headaches. Each one was randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group engaged in one chiropractic visit per week for a total of three weeks, or three visits in total. The second group experienced three visits weekly for the same duration (nine visits total), and the third group received four chiropractic visits for each of the three weeks (12 visits total).
Upon conclusion of the study, researchers found that “there was substantial benefit in pain relief for 9 and 12 treatments,” when compared to the first group who received only three chiropractic visits total. Additionally, positive benefits were still being reported for the participants who had the higher number of chiropractic treatment sessions when they were assessed 12 weeks after the study ended.
While this type of research finding is extremely promising, especially for your patients who are trying to deal with cervicogenic headaches, there are even more studies in the works. The ultimate goal of these additional research efforts is to determine exactly how effective spinal manipulation therapy is for this particular condition, hopefully creating a clearer image of how to properly apply chiropractic remedies for the most effective treatment outcomes.
Road to recovery
If your patients currently struggle with cervicogenic headaches or believe that their neck may be the cause of their head pain but are currently undiagnosed, there are a couple of steps that can help you get them on the road to recovery. The first one is to diagnose the cause of their headaches to determine if they are cervicogenic in nature. This can typically be done via your X-ray machine.
Once it is verified that their headaches are cervicogenic, a treatment plan can be constructed based on the type of neck issue they have, the level of severity, and amount of inflammation involved as well as the number of cervical manipulations necessary to provide the best possible results to alleviate the pain.
Follow up by way of physical therapy, strengthening of the neck area, and additional manipulations can also help keep cervicogenic headaches at bay for your patients long term.