Drs. Lori Mancuso & Godwin Sammut
Drs. Lori Mancuso
& Godwin Sammut



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Headaches



Chronic Migraine Patient Improves With Chiropractic Care

The August 3, 2003 issue of the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research reports that a patient suffering from chronic migraine headaches for a number of years responded very favorably to chiropractic care.

The case study involved a professional ice skater who experienced a concussion after falling and hitting her head on the ice. Before the fall, the patient reported no health problems. After the concussion, she began to have tension and migraine headaches that continued for 12 years.

After deciding to visit a chiropractor, examination revealed that she had a subluxation in the upper part of her neck and a program of adjustments was begun. Within three months of beginning chiropractic adjustments, the patient had no more headaches. One year after the initial adjustment, she still remained symptom free.

The authors concluded that there was a link between the patient's concussion, the subluxation and the headaches.

Commentary: We would agree. The fact that the symptoms appeared so soon after the fall and resulting concussion and the fact that the symptoms cleared up after beginning chiropractic care certainly suggests that the resulting subluxation was a contributing factor to the migraine headaches.

However, many times after an injury such as the one this skater had, pain or other symptoms do not show up for some time, often years later. Like your teeth, it's not a good idea to wait for symptoms of spinal problems to show up before getting your spine checked. A program of regular chiropractic wellness care will find and correct spinal problems before they have been there long enough to cause symptoms.




A case of cervicogenic headache (CEH) in an 8-year-old boy that improved after chiropractic spinal manipulation is reported. An 8-year-old boy presented with a complaint of daily headache. The duration of symptoms was over 3 years. The patient met the diagnostic criteria for CEH. Awkward head position reproduced head pain, as did palpation of the upper cervical region. Decreased range of motion of the neck was evident, as well as abnormal tenderness and primarily of the right upper cervical region. A significant decrease in headache frequency as reported by the patient and parent was seen after the first treatment. After four treatments the headache frequency decreased to approximately one per month. The patient was followed for 2 months after termination of care and reported headache frequency of approximately two per month. There is evidence that spinal manipulation is effective in the treatment of CEH in adults. This appears to be the first published case of spinal manipulation for headache meeting the CEH diagnostic criteria in a child. Since headache in general is a common complaint in children, chiropractic treament of CEH in children may be an area warranting further investigation.

Source: J Neuromusculoskeletal System 2002 (Fall); 10 (3): 98-103 Lisa, AJ., Dabrowski, Y


A February, 2001 report from the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research finds that chiropractic patients experience improvement in the frequency and severity of their headaches.

The study, a literature review performed at Duke University in Durham, NC, collected information from more than 2500 sources.

According to the report, Chiropractic adjustments "appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity" in patients experiencing cervicogenic headache.

Source: Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, February, 2001

How Common Are Headaches?

If you have a headache, you`re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

Headaches have many causes, or "triggers." These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.

Source: American Chiropractic Association Website (www.amerchiro.org)

There are two ways to categorize headaches:



Primary Headache includes tension-type, migraine, and cluster headaches and are not caused by other underlying medical conditions. More than 90% of headaches are primary.

Secondary Headache result from other medical conditions, such as infection or increased pressure in the skull due to a tumor. These account for fewer than 10% of all headaches.

Source: 2004 The Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research

Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches.

These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.

"The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck," says Dr. George B. McClelland, a doctor of chiropractic from Christiansburg, VA, and member of the American Chiropractic Association`s (ACA) Board of Governors.

"Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache."

Most persons afflicted with mild recurrent or isolated headaches do not consult physicians, therefore, the true incidence is unknown. One recent survey demonstrated that in some populations, 70-90 percent of subjects questioned admitted to having at least one headache in the previous year, with a similar incidence reported in children. Another study conducted in Scandinavia indicated that 75 percent of children reported having had significant head pain by 15 years of age.

Source: Brad McKechnie, DC, DACANDynamic Chiropractic, 11/12/02

Have a Splitting Headache? Chiropractic Care Can Help

If you have a headache, you`re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.

New research shows that spinal manipulation - the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic - may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.

A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.

Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.

Types of Foods Which May Cause Headaches

Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of caffeine.

Foods with a high salt or sugar content may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise, or abrupt movements.

Alcoholic beverages can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.

Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high- protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.

Source: American Chiropractic Association Website (www.amerchiro.org

Headache Triggers

But to get to the bottom of the problem, you first need to find out what is causing your pain. Headaches have many causes, or "triggers." These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.

Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.

"The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck," says Dr. George B. McClelland, a doctor of chiropractic from Christiansburg, VA, and chairman of the American Chiropractic Association`s (ACA) Board of Governors. "Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache."

What Can You Do?

The ACA suggests the following:
  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches.
  • However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise.
  • Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
  • Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) - the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull - leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.


In addition, the ACA and its Council on Nutrition suggest you avoid the following food "triggers":
  • Avoid caffeine. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of the stimulant.
  • Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise, or abrupt movements.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.
  • Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.


What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

Dr. McClelland says your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.

"Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways - not just back pain," says Dr. McClelland. "They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems."

Source: 2004, American Chiropractic Association




New research shows that spinal manipulation - the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic - may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.

Source: Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J. The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997;20:326-30




It has been estimated that up to 23 million people in the United States are chronic migraine sufferers, and that 3.4 million women and 1.1 million men have more than one serious headache per month.

Source: Dr. Finnigan is the author of Life Beyond Headaches, http://www.beyondheadaches.com/Headaches.html#CD

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