Headaches (cephalgia) are a common cause to visit a doctor. Tension type headache, migraine, cluster or cervicogenic headaches are common types of headache. Did you know that one of your headache treatment options is your local chiropractor? Chiropractic could help you manage the spinal causes of headache and migraine.

Headaches are so common that almost everyone has the odd one now and again and takes it for granted, but you may be suffering more than you can cope with. Headaches at least once a week or more are of concern and need to be examined by your local chiropractor or GP.

Tension Headaches:

Tension type headaches are the most common type of headache, which tend to have a strong connection with a loss of proper motion of vertebral joints (a.k.a fixations) with adjoining tight, tender muscles knots in the cervical and thoracic spine, and possible tightening of the jaw joint (bruxism or teeth grinding).

Patients often say that it “feels like my head is in a vice” or “like a band of pain around my head similar to a headband”.

Here is where chiropractic can make a big difference with a chiropractic adjustment which restores normal motion to those restricted spinal joints, which then stimulates your nervous system and can help relax the tight muscles.

Care is given to have the three systems working properly whilst giving you practical advice in reducing tension in your neck, shoulders and jaw.

Chiropractors can be key component to helping balance the daily stresses that are placed on your nerves, muscles and joints without the need for unnecessary headache drugs.


Migraine is a severe headache, that tends to be on one side of the head and can be accompanied by other symptoms (a.k.a. auras) that may include increased sensitivity to light or sound, nausea or visual disturbances, that can last for hours or even days. If preceded with an aura then the migraine is known as a "classic migraine", if not then it is usually a "common migraine". This type of headache affects women more than men (17.6%: 6%).

Even though migraine headache causes are thought to be of a vascular mechanism, mechanical problems affecting the vertebrae (the bones of your spine) in your neck will contribute in causing a headache, and may be a contributory factor in migraines. Your chiropractor will be able to identify a loss of proper movement in the vertebrae and associated areas and by treating them, improve their movement. This reduces stresses on the muscles, joints and nerves which may be causing the problem.

A vital component of migraines is the diet that you follow as well. Your chiropractor will discuss this issue with you.

Cervicogenic Headache:

If you have had a neck injury due to road accident whiplash, sporting accident, or repetitive strain to your neck through bad posture, these tend to be a cause of cervicogenic headaches. Headache and neck pain are associated and can be reproduced with palpating the spine and neck muscles. Cervicogenic headache symptoms are usually dull or aching pains, affecting the base of the skull or one or both sides of your head.

Chiropractic can be very effective in the treatment of headaches that are the result of these injuries.

Cluster Headache:

This type of headache sits around the orbital area (eye) and is usually one sided. These headaches have a sudden onset, have a lasting time of 5-180 minutes and can be severe.

Here again is where chiropractic can make a big difference with a chiropractic adjustment which restores normal motion to those restricted spinal joints, which then stimulates your nervous system and can help relax the tight muscles.

Headache in Kids:

Recent evidence suggests that it's not just adults that suffer with headaches, children do too! They can begin from birth through childhood. Early causes may be from birth trauma, physical stress during a birth that is too rapid (preventing time to mould and adapt) or too extended (causing excessive compressive force on the delicate tissues) or mechanical forces used during the birth. Later, pain may develop from those 'bumps' and 'knocks' a child goes through when learning to crawl, walk, run and so on.

Of course, an infant cannot complain of pain in a specific area like adults, but symptoms can result in quality of life problems, such as difficulty eating, sleeping, lying on their backs or result in excessive crying, or unexplained fussiness or restlessness.

Headache Tips:

Here are some common tips to try to resolve a headache:

  • Drink water and keep hydrated
  • Avoid glare on the eyes from the sun, T.V or computer screen.
  • Have your eyes checked or wear your prescribed glasses/contact lenses if there is a blurring of your vision or difficulties reading.
  • Avoid prolonged periods of poor neck and back posture by taking regular breaks to stretch.
  • Avoid excessive stimulants like coffee and tea.
  • Get enough sleep of 6 - 8 hours per night.
Serious Headache

If you recognize any of the below these can be early signs of a stroke and emergency medical care will be required.

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body,
  2. Sudden loss of facial expressions,
  3. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding,
  4. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes,
  5. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination,
  6. Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Headache treatment

Headache treatment as done by a chiropractor will always start off with a thorough physical and historical examination to determine if you have a tension or cervicogenic headache, migraine or another type of headache.

The aim of Chiropractic care for headaches is to:
  • Give relief of headache pain
  • Help reduce dependency on painkiller pills
  • Reduce the frequency and severity of tension/cervicogenic/migraine headaches
  • Improve the function of the jaw as "grinding teeth (bruxism) causes muscle tension and may be a major factor in chronic headaches"
  • Include sensible advice on how to cut down the stress in your life.
  • Help patients manage their chronic headaches.