Have you ever experienced sudden sharp pain in your lower back from trying to lift something you shouldn’t have? Has a hard fall from a sports-related accident ever left your back aching? Perhaps you’ve suffered whiplash as a result of getting rear-ended in a car accident? It is not uncommon in any of these situations for people to seek pain relief from a chiropractor.
What is Chiropractic Treatment?
Many people seek treatment from chiropractors for sudden or chronic back pain. This is because chiropractors focus mainly on the body’s musculoskeletal structure, namely the spine. By manually adjusting and massaging the spine when injury causes vertabrae to become misaligned, chiropractors can bring pain relief to related muscles, joints, bones and connective tissues. Chiropractors may also employ other non-invasive interventions such as acupuncture, electrical stimulation and ultrasound. Combined with chiropractic treatments, these alternative therapies often resolve neck and back problems and alleviate pain without relying on medications or surgery.
Among other complaints, chiropractic care has been found to be an effective treatment for neck and shoulder pain, back pain, sports injuries, sciatica and herniated discs.
In many cases chiropractors will combine hands-on spinal adjustments with a menu of improved nutrition, lifestyle changes, physical therapy and exercise. Occasionally chiropractic treatments may be used as a complementary treatment with more traditional medical interventions.
Can Chiropractic Care Help Alleviate Headaches?
As anyone who suffers from painful, chronic headaches knows, relief can be hard to come by. Headaches can cause irritability, lack of sleep, fatigue, confusion, and an inability to concentrate. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting and a strong sensitivity to light and noise. Headache medications are not always – or quickly – effective and may have deleterious side effects of their own.
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners Practice Analysis of Chiropractic 2010 Report points to several studies that support chiropractic treatment for tension and cervicogenic headaches, the latter which are caused by disorders of the cervical spine.
What Did the Report Find?
The report references three randomized trials in 1977, 1979, and 2009, respectively, which found chiropractic care helping to alleviate patients’ tension headaches. Likewise, a 1995 study referenced in the report compared the outcomes of patients suffering from cervicogenic headaches. The participants in this study were broken into two groups. One group received regular spinal manipulations, while the other was administered anti-depressants. Follow up after four weeks found that those patients who received chiropractic care continued to maintain positive results. The group that received anti-depressants, however, reverted back to their original conditions. These findings may be good news for those patients who prefer to avoid prescription medications.
Are There Other Studies?
A growing body of evidence consistently points to benefits derived from chiropractic care for the alleviation of chronic headaches. In a 2011 study researchers drew from 21 article searches of controlled clinical trials on the efficacy of chiropractic care in treating headaches. This study, reported in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, has been used to inform their chiropractic treatment recommendations for migraine and cervicogenic headaches. The researchers concluded that moderate results can be had when combining manual spinal adjustments with multimodal interventions.
A Growing Trend
Numbers don’t lie. There is a growing trend for headache sufferers to seek out non-invasive, alternative treatments. An October 2018 research article published in BMC Neurology found that one in five new chiropractic patients seek treatment for headaches and that 25.7 to 36 percent of migraine sufferers turn to chiropractors for care. Similarly, collaborative care referrals for headache management are most often to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) providers, followed by general practitioners. While each course of treatment must be determined for the individual patient, chiropractors tend to approach headache treatment with a combination of spinal manipulations, therapeutic exercises and stress management.