Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches, Migraines and Head Injuries


Known for their quick, sudden movements to assist with neck and back-related issues, a chiropractor may be the last person you would consider seeing for the treatment of a concussion or any other type of brain injury. Most people associate this branch of healthcare for sports injuries and spinal adjustments, but this form of treatment can also be beneficial for helping with neurological issues and cognitive function.

As well as improving mobility in joints and muscles, chiropractic can help treat headaches and migraines and practitioners such as also adopt an integrative approach to the treatment of concussions and post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is an alternative form of healthcare that uses hands-on techniques focused on the spine, joints and muscles of the body to help relieve pain, correct alignment and restore overall function. A chiropractor uses their hands or special instruments to manipulate the joints, applying a quick and controlled force to correct a misalignment.

Chiropractic Care for Headaches, Migraines and Brain Injury

Chiropractic treatment can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from migraines, headaches, neck and back pain.

A chiropractor will work with the musculoskeletal system to align the spine, alleviating stress on the body’s nervous system. This allows the blood to circulate more freely around the body, reducing inflammation, tension and irritation that can lead to headache pain. The following types of headaches can often be treated through chiropractic care:

Tension Headaches: This type of headache is caused when the muscles in the neck, shoulders and head contract due to prolonged tension from poor posture or stress. This can lead to pain and tightness in the forehead or the back of the head and neck. Certain factors such as alcohol, lack of sleep and dehydration can be triggers for this type of headache.

Chiropractic treatment might involve adjustments to the spine to alleviate stiffness and muscle spasms. The cause of most tension headaches is known as subluxations in the upper back and neck. Chiropractic adjustments can be performed to correct subluxations in the neck that may be the cause of stiffness and muscle spasms, allowing for a greater movement of the neck muscles. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, other techniques such as stretching, relaxation and massage may be used. Abstinence from certain foods and other lifestyle changes may also be recommended.

Migraine Headaches: Migraines are the sixth most disabling illness in the world, affecting 39 million men, women and children in the U.S., according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Often accompanied by an “aura” that occurs before the onset of pain,  a migraine can also cause nausea, vomiting and a heightened sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors such as sensory stimuli, hormonal changes, as well as certain food and drink which may include chocolate, wine and cheese.

Chiropractic treatment for migraines might include adjustment to the spine in order to reduce stress on the nervous system. A chiropractor will focus on the head and neck, correcting subluxations in the back that are affecting these parts of the body. Another technique which may be used is neuromuscular massage, or trigger point therapy, which involves massaging trigger points in the back, shoulder, neck and head to relieve pressure in the nerves which causes pain. Changes in lifestyle and dietary counseling may also be discussed.

Cluster Headaches: These headaches do not last very long, ranging from 10 minutes to a few hours and are usually experienced on one side of the head, behind the eyes. They mostly affect men and are known as “cluster” headaches as they can occur several times in one day or a period of days, occurring mostly at night. Similar to migraines, cluster headaches are caused by dilation of the blood vessels that supply the brain and face with blood causing localized pressure in the head. Chiropractic treatment might involve manipulation of the spine to help the nervous system in order to reduce the frequency of cluster headaches.

Cervicogenic Headaches: Cervicogenic headaches usually begin at the back of the head and spread to the front. They can also be accompanied by shoulder or arm pain on one side of the body. They may be caused by injuries to the neck, problems with the cervical vertebrae or other underlying medical conditions. They are one of the least common types of headache and can be treated with spinal manipulation.

Post-Concussion Syndrome Symptoms

Post-Concussion Syndrome, or PCS, usually stems from a head injury resulting in persistent symptoms that may last weeks, months or even a year following a concussion. Trauma to the brain which causes PCS can occur for a number of reasons such as whiplash, Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or stroke or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some of the areas affected by PCS include cognitive, physical, sleep, and mood or behavior. This can create difficulties in memory, concentration and focus as well as fatigue, making people more tired than usual. This can also develop into insomnia as people experience issues falling asleep. Many people with PCS can also experience anxiety, irritability or depression.

A concussion can lead to several issues in the skeletomuscular system which may include tightening of the muscles in the neck, loosening of neck muscles creating instability or vestibular and visionary issues that can put stress on the vertebrae of the neck. Spinal adjustments may help some patients with PCS. Adjustments to safely manipulate the C1 and C2 vertebrae may ease pain in the neck and back, relieving tension in areas that are causing symptoms.

Chiropractic care can be highly beneficial for people who suffer with PCS and in most cases, this will be a complementary therapy done in combination with other treatments.

As this article has shown, there are many areas of healthcare that a chiropractor can assist you with. If you are suffering from any of the issues mentioned in this article it is worth consulting with a chiropractor to discuss your treatment options.

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