Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Can Chiropractic Care Help My Headaches?

Did you know that roughly 90 percent of people suffer from occasional headaches!? It varies how intense these headaches are and how long they last in duration from person to person, but one thing that doesn’t vary is the fact they can compromise our quality of life and become debilitating. How do you manage your headaches? Do you use an ice pack? Sleep it off? Take a pill? Tough it out? I suggest a better alternative, Chiropractic care.

First, lets discuss the different types of headaches there are out there. We typically divide headaches into 2 main categories: Primary and Secondary. Primary headache types include: Migraine, tension, and cluster. Primary headaches are caused by over-activity of structures in the head. This can include changes in one or more of the following: Chemical activity in the brain, nerve and blood supply, and muscles. Secondary headache types include: Cervicogenic, hypertension, TMJ dysfunction, sinus, post-traumatic, among others. A secondary headache is a headache that is brought on by another condition. (Future posts will discuss each headache more in-depth)

Finding out what triggers your headaches may go a long way in properly diagnosing and managing them. Maybe they’re due to stress, neck stiffness, teeth grinding, lack of sleep, food allergies, and the list goes on and on. After a probable diagnosis is made, the research suggests that spinal adjustments and regular chiropractic care can be highly effective in the treatment of headaches..   

A randomized controlled trial was done by the Journal of manipulative physiological therapeutics (JMPT) that focused on the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments for patients suffering from migraines. The study used 127 participants (age 10-70) that had a diagnosis of migraine. These patients underwent 2 months of chiropractic care, including spinal adjustments. The control group underwent no chiropractic care for comparison. Patients filled out headache diaries consistently throughout the 2-month experiment recording the frequency, intensity, duration, disability, and use of medication for each episode (1).  

The results showed a statistically significant improvement in each category stated above: headache frequency, intensity, duration, disability, and use of medication for the experimental group compared to the control group. In other words, the patients that received chiropractic care better managed their headaches. Also, over 80% of participants reported stress as the key factor for their migraines. The JMPT correlated that chiropractic care has a positive effect on the physical conditions related to stress (1).

In conclusion, If you’re suffering from headaches and are looking for a safe and effective way to manage them, go see a chiropractor! We can provide adjustments to help improve movement and alleviate stress on the nervous system, provide nutritional advice, and provide advice on exercises, posture, ergonomics, and relaxation techniques to help you get better faster! Use me as a tool to help improve your health!

Update: I’m still waiting on my license application to be processed but I am hopeful to begin accepting patients the first week of February! Stay tuned!        


1.     Tuchin, PJ. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics. A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. Feb 2000.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Part II

Last week I released a blog that discussed what a chiropractic adjustment does from a biomechanical stand point. In this weeks post I will attempt to further explain what the adjustment does, but this time from a neurological stand point. The key word in the last sentence is attempt, because neuroanatomy is much more complex than a one-page blog, but I hope to paraphrase what it is we do neurologically. Let’s start by breaking down what our nervous system is…

The nervous system is structurally broken down into 2 components: 1. Central Nervous system (CNS.) 2. Peripheral Nervous system (PNS). The Central Nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and retina. This is where information is evaluated and commands are made, its commonly referred to as our control center. The peripheral nervous system consists of specialized cells and nerves that connect the central nervous system to the rest of our body. Think of the peripheral nervous system as the transmitter of information from the body to the brain (sensory/afferent information) and from the brain to the body (motor/efferent information). The peripheral nervous system also has 3 subsystems including: somatic, autonomic, and the enteric nervous systems respectively.  

All day long our brain (CNS) is processing information from these nerve receptors (PNS) in our joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, etc.

As I stated in last week’s post, it is imperative that our joints move correctly to enable proper functional movement patterns and to avoid pain and injuries. Also, if our joints are not moving correctly, the nerve receptors will desensitize and eventually send a pain signal to the brain known as nociception. However, if our joints are moving correctly, the nerve receptors will sense this and send what is known as proprioceptive input to the brain. Proprioceptive input notifies the brain where that joint is at in space.

Therefore, the adjustment is designed to take place in these desensitized or restricted joints and override the pain signal by stimulating proprioceptive input. Think about the last time you hit your head. I bet the first thing you did was rub the spot you hit, right? If it seemed to make it feel better its because you were overriding the pain signal by stimulating the receptors that give the brain proprioceptive feedback. This scenario helps to explain the neurological reason why the adjustment makes you feel better, but on a larger scale. When our brain is bombarded with new proprioceptive input it takes precedent over the pain signal.

As a mentor of mine put it, the adjustment opens a neurological window when pain is gone and it allows time for proper movement to take place. With each adjustment and each exercise performed, the hope is to create a larger time frame that this “window” is opened. When the window stays open for an extended period of time this is when your condition has been treated successfully. 


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