There is hope for those suffering from headaches according to a recent research study. Many individuals suffer from varying types of headaches. Some experience tension headaches, others have migraine headaches, still others are plagued by sinus headaches and some develop cluster headaches. One of the unfortunate hallmark problems for those with headaches is that the headache can occur randomly. If the headache is of a debilitating type it can severely interfere with a person’s planned activities. I have seen patients have to cancel work trips, vacations and social engagements due to their condition.
A scientific study published by BioMed Central Musculoskeletal Disorders, February 2016 gives insight on treatment and relief for those who suffer from this malady. 130 individuals in a study compared cervical and thoracic manipulation to mobilization and exercise for treatment of cervicogenic headaches (headaches caused by cervical dysfunction). The results of this study revealed that 6 to 8 sessions, received in four weeks, of cervical and thoracic manipulation provided greater reductions in headache intensity, frequency and duration than a course of treatment involving only mobilization and exercise. The authors of the study add that the benefits of manipulation persisted when the patients were re-examined three months later.
Clarification of the terms manipulation and mobilization is needed. Manipulation is a physical procedure performed by the healthcare practitioner, by hand, involving a quick but gentle movement to restore alignment and proper motion to an area of the spine. Mobilization involves a slow rocking or stretching maneuver of the healthcare practitioner by hand to the area involved.
In the research study mentioned, treatment was directed to the upper bones of the neck. These are called the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine.
Those who were given manipulation to this area experienced an improvement of decreased intensity and decreased frequency of their headaches. Additionally, their headaches interfered less in the activities of daily living and quality of their day to day lives. These benefits persisted when the patients were reevaluated three months later. Those receiving mobilization as the primary form of treatment did not experience a similar benefit.
The profession that performs more manipulative therapy treatment than all others is that of chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic receive hundreds of hours of training in manipulation. Chiropractic education involves five years of study involving courses such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and others. All chiropractic institutions have a process of training so that their students are considered to be the “gold standard” in delivering the best manipulative treatment that can possibly be given. It should be noted that chiropractors use the terms “manipulation” and “adjusting” interchangeably.
Although chiropractors utilize many forms of therapy such as exercises and physiological therapeutics their primary focus of treatment is considered to be spinal manipulation. Because of the extensive training and clinical experience chiropractors have with manipulation, researchers consider the chiropractic profession to be superior healthcare specialists for this type of treatment.
Although there are certainly other causes for headaches the majority of people suffering from this condition should investigate whether they are a candidate for cervical spinal manipulation for relief of their malady.