A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck.
From the February 2004 issue of the Journal of Chiropractic Pediatrics, comes a documented case study of a 28 year old women who suffered with migraine headaches for over a decade before being helped with chiropractic care. In her case there was no history of previous trauma. Her migraines would last for several days and would cause nausea and dizziness.
In addition to her headaches, she also revealed a history of an irregular menstrual cycle, she would normally menstruate no more than twice per year. This problem resulted in infertility. After years of not becoming pregnant, she sought help from a reproductive endocrinologist. She was placed on medication which created additional side effects but did allow her to become pregnant. Unfortunately, after 9 weeks she suffered a miscarriage.
After years of these problems the woman started chiropractic care. She was initially given an examination and it was determined that she did have spinal problems. A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were then initiated. A re-examination was performed one month after care began. The patient reported a reduction in her headaches. After the second month of care another examination was performed and the patient reported that she had no incidence of migraine headache for the entire previous month. Additionally, the patient noticed that she had started a regular menstrual cycle. Within six months of the initiation of chiropractic care, she became pregnant.
From the August 3, 2003 issue of the Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journal, Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, comes a documented case study of a professional ice skater who had suffered from chronic migraine headaches. The study reports that when she was 23 years old and a professional skater she had sustained a concussion by hitting her head against the ice in a fall. Prior to her fall and concussion, she exhibited no health problems. Following the concussion, she suffered with tension and migraine headaches. These symptoms persisted over the next twelve years, during which time she utilized daily pain medications.
At age 35 she decided to initiate chiropractic care. The study notes that the initial examination showed evidence of subluxation in the upper neck (cervical spine) . The results were monitored by the doctor's observation, patient's subjective description of symptoms, and thermographic scans. Following three months of care all headaches were gone. After a one year follow up the patient still remained headache free.
The study's conclusion noted, "The onset of the symptoms following the patient's fall on her head; the immediate reduction in symptoms correlating with the initiation of care; and the complete absence of all symptoms within three months of care; suggest a link between the patient's concussion, the upper cervical subluxation, and her headaches."
A study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT), showed that people suffering with migraine headaches were helped with chiropractic care. The study was conducted in Australia at the Chiropractic Research Center of Macquarie University. In this research 177 volunteers were studied who had migraine headaches for over 18 years on average. Many of the participants also suffered from neck pain.
The average response of the group that received chiropractic care showed a statistically significant improvement in migraine frequency, duration, and disability. The study also showed that those who received chiropractic care were able to reduce their medication use, with a significant number reducing their medication usage to zero! Additionally, 59% had no neck pain after a period of two months, and another 35% had a decrease in neck pain.
The researchers concluded this study, built on previous studies that had similar results. There have now been several studies demonstrating significant improvement in headaches or migraines after chiropractic. The Migraine Foundation of Australia estimates that some 12% of Australians ages 15 and over, experience migraines.
A clinical trial reported in Medical-News.net on May 22, 2005 showed that 72% of migraine sufferers experienced either 'substantial' or 'noticeable' improvement after a period of chiropractic care. The study was a randomized clinical trial completed over a 20 year period. Dr. Peter Tuchin, was the chief researcher and presented his results in a thesis at Macquarie University in Australia.
The study involved 123 migraine sufferers, which was reduced down from aproximatly1000 who applied to be part of the study after responding to a television program about the research. The 123 participants were further divided into two groups. One group received chiropractic care while the other group was a control group who did not receive any actual care but were told they were receiving a form of electrical physical therapy.
In commenting on the results, Dr. Peter Tuchin, a chiropractor for the past 20 years stated, "Around 22 per cent [of patients] had substantial reduction - which means that more than 60 percent of their symptoms reduced during the course of the treatment. What makes this a really strong result is that this was a really chronic group - the average length of time they'd had migraines was 18 years. To get a change of that sort of magnitude in a really chronic group was quite amazing."
In this study Dr. Tuchin went to great lengths to document the results.Â He explained, "Both groups kept a record of their migraines for the whole six months, noting down how often they got them, how severe they were, how long they lasted, and if there was anything they could think of that contributed to them," Tuchin explains. "For two months prior to any treatment they just diarised their migraines, followed by two months of treatment and then two months of post-treatment"
Dr. Tuchin summed up the results of the study by saying, "Chiropractic is not the be all and end all, but for a good percentage of migraine sufferers the neck is a significant contributing factor, and for them chiropractic treatment is really effective. I'm not saying that everybody's going to be cured, but there's very little to lose."
According to the American Chiropractic Association 14% of the public who see chiropractors presently go for headaches. For these patients the good news has gotten even better. Researchers at Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota, compared chiropractic care to certain drug therapies used for tension and migraine headaches.
The study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, followed 218 headache sufferers who were given either chiropractic care or drug therapy or both. Pain was reduced 40 - 50% in all groups initially. However, four weeks after all care was stopped, only the chiropractic group still retained the benefits, while those who received the drug therapy lost about half of their improvement.
Evidence reports recently released by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER) show the effectiveness of chiropractic care for sufferers of Tension Headaches. The story released February of 2001, was the continuation of a release of a study done at Duke University several years earlier. In the study many different types of physical and behavioral treatments were used for patients with headaches. Chiropractic care was specifically compared to amitriptyline, a common medication used for headaches.
In this study the staff at the Duke Center screened articles from the literature, created evidence tables, and analyzed the quality and magnitude of results from these studies. They then drafted an evidence report with peer review from a panel of 25 reviewers, including researchers and clinicians in chiropractic.
The results showed that chiropractic was highly effective for patients with tension headaches. When compared with the drug amitriptyline, chiropractic and the drug had similar short term effects during the episode. However, the drug carried with it an adverse reaction rate in 82% of the patients.
The most profound effects were seen after the care was discontinued in the study. In these instances the patients who were on drug therapy essentially returned to the same state as before. However, the patients who were under chiropractic care continued to show sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity even after the chiropractic care was discontinued. The implications are that chiropractic is not actually a therapy or treatment, but rather gets to the cause allowing the body to effect a correction that lasts beyond actual care.