Headache comprises a mix of disorders ranging from tension headache to migraine. Part of the headache complaints arise from the neck. It is especially this type of headache which may benefit from chiropractic treatment.
Headache arising from the neck
Since 1988 the International Headache Society (IHS) recognizes that headache may arise from the neck, referred to as 'cervicogenic headache'. Cervicogenic headache involves complaints such as facial pain, general headache, mandibular pain, ear ache and eye pain. Approximately 1-5% of the adult population has experienced cervicogenic headache. According to a Danish study in 8-35% of persons with frequent headaches the complaints arise from the neck (Nilsson N., Spine, 1995 Sep 1;20(17):1884-8).
Neck problems, resulting in headaches, can be the consequence of a fall incident, whiplash accident or for example simply a draught in the neck. A wrong sleeping position or working position may be precipitating factors as well. Tiny nerves run from the upper cervical spine directly towards the skin of the head. Other nerves from this region run through a nerve knot towards the mandibular joint (jaw), the (middle) ear or for example the eyes. A movement disorder in the cervical spine causing irritation of the nerve can hence lead to typical aches in the face, head, jaw, ears and eyes.
How can chiropractic help?
The chiropractor is specialized in examining and treating this type of complaints. Approximately one third of patients who visit the chiropractic clinic suffer from neck problems or headaches. International expert panels were positive on the use of spinal adjustments as a treatment modality (Spitzer et al. 1995, Hurwitz et al. 1996). A controlled clinical study showed that chiropractic treatment is effective in cervicogenic headache (Nilsson N 1997). Other studies showed efficacy in the treatment of migraine (Parker GB et al. 1978) and tension headache (Boline et al. 1995).
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