With 66% of the population effected by headaches, it's no wonder that chiropractors are often seen as a point of call for sufferers of this condition. Headaches are seen as the most prevalent pain disorder in the global population, thereby representing a major health problem, disturbing both quality of life and work productivity. In the US alone it costs employers $US13 billion due to missed workdays and impaired work function.
Although an ache in the head can sometimes be an indication of a life threatening condition, (intracranial mass, space occupying lesion or bleeding on the brain for example) most often it is a debilitating, yet benign condition.
The international headache society divides headaches into two major categories.
Primary headaches (no other causative factor)
- migraine (10% of headaches)
- tension type headaches (38% of headaches)
Secondary headaches (directly attributed to another disorder)
- temporal arteritis
- intracranial mass
- cervicogenic headaches (2.5-4% of headaches)
Obviously, chiropractors spend most of their time with patients suffering from the more common headaches. These being migraine, tension type headache and cervicogenic headache. Currently there is good evidence for a manual approach to assisting those suffering from cervicogenic headaches, or those headaches originating from dysfunction within the neck. There have also been multiple trials into chirorpactic care in relation to migraine by Tuchin et al which have also shown positive results. Although in practice we commonly see good results when assisting those with tension type headaches, only small trials have been completed and larger research trials have not yet been conducted.
Written by Dr Ryan Hislop - Chiropractor @ Mudgee NSW