A 2007 study (1) compared alternative treatments for patients suffering from cervicogenic headaches, or headaches related to/caused by dysfunction in the neck. Patients with such headaches will typically experience neck pain and limited cervical mobility. They may also be a history of a neck injury, such as a whiplash or head trauma. The study involved 70 patients who received either TENS (nerve stimulation) or manipulative therapy in their cervical region. They were given treatments every other day for forty days (about 20 visits total).
After each treatment, the researchers collected pain scores from each patient. The group receiving manipulative therapy had significant reductions in their overall headache pain score, the frequency (how often) of their headaches, and the duration of their headaches. There was a 94.5% positive response to treatment in the manipulation group compared with a 64.5% response in those patients who received nerve stimulation.
If you begin to experience headaches after your neck begins to to feel stiff or painful, then this could indicate you have a cervicogenic headache. Also, many patients do not fit neatly into categories that scientists and doctors conjure up. Many patients with migraines and tension-type headaches will complain of neck pains and associated problems. Studies have shown that these types of headaches also respond favorably to chiropractic care when a mechanical problem is detected in the neck. Manipulative therapy also has fewer side effects when compared with the available pharmaceutical treatment options.
1. (Li C, Xiu-ling Z, Hong D, Yue-qiang T, Hong-sheng Z. Comparative study on effects of manipulation treatment and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation [TENS] on patients with cervicogenic headache J Chin Integrat Med 2007;5(4)DOI:10.3736/jcm20070408)
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