Chiropractic and Headaches

Chiropractic and Headaches

Would it surprise you to know that 1 in 20 Americans has a headache EVERY DAY? Does that sound like you or someone you know? For the majority of the rest of us, headaches range from occasional to frequent, but nearly everyone experiences headaches at some point. When I finished chiropractic school in 2006, there was relatively little research on chiropractic care for most types of headaches. Chiropractors knew that we could help, but we just didn’t have the research or the mechanism of action to explain why adjusting a patient’s neck could help with their headaches. Well, the research has caught up, so let’s cover HOW it works.

All headaches come from the same area of your brain called the trigeminocervical nucleus, which is actually located in the upper part of your neck rather than your head. A nucleus in your brain is an area where different nerves come together to communicate. In this case, the nerves that are communicating are nerves from your neck (cervical) talking to nerves coming directly from your brain (trigeminal).

The nerves from your cervical region receive signals from all the tissues in your neck, INCLUDING the joints in your neck. When your neck is inflamed, as can happen with injury or even sleeping the wrong way, signals are sent from your neck to the trigeminocervical nucleus. Those signals trigger the area to send pain signals to the nerves in your brain telling your body, “Um, we have a headache, call in sick and take a nap.”

Now the interesting part to this is that this same mechanism holds true for ALL HEADACHES. What that means is that a migraine is the same as a tension headache is the same as a cluster headache, at least as far as the anatomy and physiology are concerned.

The take-home-message here is that chiropractic is clinically effective for the treatment of migraine headaches. If you or someone you know has been suffering from headaches (or even worse, the side effects of many headache medications), you should schedule a consultation at our Downtown Orlando office so we can help to identify your type of headache. We’ll craft an action plan, including chiropractic care, to reduce your headaches now AND in the future.

About Dr. Merrill

headshot of Dr merrill
Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.