Does chiropractic help with headaches?

Studies show 9 out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches regularly. In fact, headaches are a main contributor to missed work time. Spinal manipulation, or chiropractic care, is an effective treatment option for tension-type headaches as well as migraines. 

What type of headache do I have?

Headaches range in severity from dull and nagging to severe and debilitating. The location of the headache as well as characteristics associated with the headache are indicators of the type of headache.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. In fact, 75% of headache sufferers experience tension headaches. This type is described as persistent, dull, achy feeling on one or both sides of the head. It may also feel like a tight band is wrapped around the head. Tension headaches may be of short duration or last for days. The tension typically stems from tightness in the neck and upper back. Tightness is a result of stress, poor posture, and joint restrictions in the neck and upper back. 

Adjustments, in conjunction with soft tissue therapies, have been shown to alleviate tension headaches. A report issued in 2001 by researchers at Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center found, “spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate relief for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects, and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications.”

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are strong headaches associated with nausea, light sensitivity, or vomiting. Similar to tension headaches, they last hours or even days. They are typically described as throbbing, pulsing, or pounding in nature. Migraine symptoms differ depending on the person and come in stages. 

Stages of a migraine

Stage 1 (Pro-Drome) precedes a migraine and starts with sensitivity to light, smell, sound, fatigue, or mood changes. Stage 2 (Aura) symptoms consist of seeing black dots, wavy lines, flashes of light, tunnel vision, or unable to see at all. Stage 3 (Attack) is when the migraine hits as a severe headache. The migraine may cause nausea or vomiting. The fourth and final stage (Post-Drome) includes feeling worn out, fatigued, and trouble concentrating.

Drug-free migraine relief

Migraines are one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S. Unfortunately, there is no cure for them. Medications are a common way to manage migraines. The problem with migraine medications is the slew of harmful side effects. It is important to seek alternative options to alleviate symptoms and severity of migraines. Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment to relieve not only the symptoms, but severity and frequency of migraines. 

How do chiropractors treat headaches?

There are several treatment options available to lessen symptoms. Combinations of approaches to treatment tend to yield the best results when treating headaches and migraines. Treatment options include spinal manipulative therapy, soft tissue therapies, stretches or exercises, ergonomic advice, and nutritional counseling. Care is highly dependent on the individual and their specific needs.


Headaches are common, but they are not normal and should not be accepted as such. Headaches are indications of other issues occurring in the body. Consider seeking non-invasive care from a chiropractor to alleviate the pain of headaches and migraines.

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