Headaches affect almost half of the population. 15-25% of all headaches are referred from the cervical spine and are classified as “cervicogenic”. (1,2) The pathophysiology of cervicogenic headache is debatable, but the anatomical basis is thought to be a convergence of sensory neurons in the upper cervical spinal cord that allows bidirectional referral of pain between the neck and head. (3) More recently, anatomists have identified myodural bridges connecting the dura to the suboccipital musculature. These bridges employ both passive and active tensioning of the spinal cord; with obvious implications for mechanically generated headaches. (4-6)
Two recent randomized controlled clinical trials have highlighted the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic management for headaches.
o “Cervical spinal mobilization increased cervical range of motion and induced immediate headache relief (in patients with cervicogenic headache).” (7)
o “Adverse events were mild and transient, and severe or serious adverse events were not observed. Local tenderness was the most common, reported by 11.3% and 6.9% of the manipulation group and the placebo group, respectively.” (8)
This new data adds to a growing list of support for employing spinal manipulation for headache sufferers. I hope that you will consider recommending chiropractic care for your appropriately screened patients. We are honored to be your partner in co-managing patients and will work diligently to provide tools that resolve problems quickly and safely.