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A common source of headaches is a misalignment of the upper part of the spine; the neck. Injuries, stress, poor posture create problems with the way the joints and muscles move. This affects the nerves, slowly building more and more tension in the neck until headaches result.  For example, one study of 6,000 long-term headache sufferers (suffering between 2 to 25 years) revealed that neck damage (e.g.: whiplash, falls, etc) was the most important factor attributed to the cause of headaches and furthermore should be suspected in every nonspecific case of headache.1

Businesswoman with intense stress and painful headache. Woman in job problems.


Chiropractors analyse the spine for these mechanical problems (called a subluxation).  This gives the chiropractic client a good indication of whether the spine is a likely factor in their headaches or not.  Even without a subluxation (misaligned vertebrae) producing headaches, it is important to have the spine/neck functioning as near normal as possible as the nerves going through your neck have vital jobs to do such as ensuring the body runs itself properly.  A subluxation in the neck (cervical spine) can create problems with blood flow to the brain which can often result in poor concentration, tiredness and “fogginess” in the head.   The nerves in your neck being painful are not there only role, but merely a symptom to draw your attention to an underlying cause.

 If no subluxations are present then it isn’t a Chiropractic case and the Chiropractic doctor will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

(For appointment or advice)


Research notes:

In a study in Denmark, those under Chiropractic care decreased their use of painkillers by 36% and the number of headache hours, per day, were decreased by 69%.2
A study by Whittingham showed good relief of headaches for patients receiving chiropractic care.
A 1990 study in 23 patients receiving manual treatment found a statistically significant improvement in headache symptoms over the control group.
A 1985 study on 332 headache sufferers showed that 80% achieved a pain-free or almost pain free status after 8-9 adjustments (an older study with some design limitations).
A 2001 study on 123 patients found good improvement in migraines.  22% reported a 90% improvement, and a further 50% reported significant improvement.
A study review, in 2001, showed evidence for spinal manipulation for headaches & showed it to be more effective than massage.


  1. Broof M, Rosner S.  Trauma of the cervical spine as a cause of chronic headache.  Trauma.  1975:15:441-446.

2.Nilsson N, Christensen J, Hertrigsen J.  The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache.  JMPT. 1997;20:326-330.

3.Whittingham W, Ellis W, Molyneux T.  The effect of manipulation (toggle recoil) for headaches with upper cervical joint dysfunction: a pilot study.  JMPT 17(6)369-375, 1994.

4.Jensen OK, Neilsen FF, Vosmar L : An open study comparing manual therapy with the use of cold packs in the treatment of post-traumatic headache,  Cephalalgia;10(5):241-250, 1990.


6.Tuchin P, Pollard H, Bonello R. A randomized controlled trial of Chiropractic spinal manipulativie therapy for migraine.  JMPT 23(2) 91-95, 2001.

7.Boline P, Kassali K, Bronfor G, Nelwon C, Anderson A.  Spinal manipulation vs Amitriptyline for the treatment of Chronic tension-type Headaches.  JMPT 18:148-154, 1995.

cameron72small  Cameron Finlayson is a Chiropractor in Auckland, New Zealand for the last 21 years.