The Types of Headaches that Chiropractic Can Treat


Half of the world’s adult population deals with some type of headache conditions, according to the World Health Organization. It is not surprising that it is one of the most common health conditions and health complaints. Even the number of documented types of headaches are baffling – over 120. Most of these headaches are not serious and can easily be treated.


There are only a few types of headaches that chiropractic care may not be able to manage. These are headaches where the causes are serious and life-threatening, including aneurism, brain tumors, vertebral or carotid artery dissection and head injuries. Chiropractors will normally refer such serious but rare cases to other healthcare professionals for more appropriate medical attention. It is their role to do this.  The types of headaches that are commonly treated with chiropractic care are obviously the most common types of headaches. They are tension headaches, cervicogenic headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) headaches and migraines.


Tension Headaches


The most common type of headache and one commonly treated by chiropractic care is tension headache. It is what you normally describe as the everyday-type of headaches. When you have a tension headache, you may feel like you have a tight band stretched around your head. Its severity may be mild to extreme, though it does not normally disrupt your daily activities. Tension headaches usually last from thirty minutes to a few hours. In some cases though, they may last for a few days. Twice as many women as men are affected by tension headaches. Muscle contractions in the regions in your head and neck are believed to be the cause of tension headaches and triggered by a variety of factors such as certain activities, foods and stressors.


Cervicogenic headaches


Another common type of headache that chiropractic care is strongly attached to is cervicogenic headaches. It is estimated that 20 to 25 percent of the adults get affected by this type of headaches. It is a headache condition that develops from a problem with your cervical spine, such as in the vertebrae, joints, discs or your neck’s muscles and tendons. The headache pain may be traced to the compression and irritation of the nerves from the problem in your spine. The symptoms for cervicogenic headaches often mimic tension headaches and migraines that is why their diagnosis can be missed. The symptoms include pain at the base of your skull, usually in the back area or between the shoulder blades, dizziness and  feeling lightheaded.


Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) headache


This type of headache is caused by temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a jaw joint pain condition, and usually associated with other symptoms such as pain from the movement of the jaw – chewing, yawning, talking, etc. TMJ dysfunction is a result of jaw misalignment or injury. It affects 20 to 30 percent of adults, typically young and middle-aged. It affects more women than men.




Migraine headaches are intense head pain usually felt on one side of your head and accompanied by other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and certain nervous system disturbances in the visual, sensory, verbal or motor functions, called auras. The severity of the pain in migraines makes performing routine tasks very difficult. Nearly 10 percent of Americans have migraines, with the number of women about three times as many as men. In most cases of migraines, vertebral misalignments in the neck region are seen as the likely cause.


Diagnosis and Chiropractic Treatment of Headaches        


Your chiropractor will determine the treatment plan depending on the type of headache you have. The chiropractor is able to identify the headache through the application of pressure in your neck, head or shoulder region and reproduction of the headache pain. Spinal adjustments will be performed in all spine related headaches. In the course of the treatment, techniques on stress management will be discussed. Dietary and hormone factors will be addressed, as necessary for migraine cases.


Chiropractic care is more than just the relief of headaches. Take advantage of its many benefits in the prevention not only of headaches, but of many other health conditions and in improving your general health, through regular chiropractor visits.