The growing body of evidence shows that chiropractic can be very effective and cost much less when treated right away for many conditions. This is great because people are spending far too much money on healthcare these days, and to find a way to save even a little bit is very important. Some of the most researched conditions tend to be:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Hip pain
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Plenty of testimonial evidence for MANY other conditions, but today we are only talking about research
There is a new malady that is getting some buzz and that is headaches. For a long time chiropractic patients come into the clinic to get back pain treated, and the chiropractor adjusts the whole spine including the neck. The patient then comes back stating that the headaches that they have been having are now gone. This is not news to the chiropractor, but very great news for the patient. Everyone loves a two for one deal!
Why is this happening? Most chiropractors will tell you that it is because you are aligning the spine, and that helps with the headaches. That may be true, but why does aligning the spine help with headaches?
New research in anatomy can give us some light on the subject. There is a muscle that is located right underneath that bump in the back of the skull called the rectus capitus posterior major (RCPM). This is a small muscle that only helps our head with subtle movements, but that study showed that it is also attached to the dura matter of the brain. This is like an outer covering of the brain space. This is significant, because it is the only part of the brain that is innervated for pain via the meningeal branches of the trigeminal nerve (CN V). It is also innervated by the upper cervical nerves.
This means there may be two different mechanisms to the chiropractic adjustment helping with the headache (most likely both are in play). One mechanistic explanation is that the adjustment of the upper cervical area causes a hyperactive RCPM muscle to relax via a muscle spindle response. This would release the tension that the RCPM is having on the dura mater thus relieving the pain. The other mechanism is similar, but a bit different. The adjustment gives input into the upper cervical nerves causing a parasympathetic response releasing the tension on the dura mater.
In the end most people don’t care how it works (unless you are a nerd like me and cannot wait for more research to come out), but they care that it works.
So then what type of headaches can you help with chiropractic? I would say that most of them! However, if you have received a very hard blow to the head seek medical attention to rule out a hematoma. This may be life-threatening and needs medical attention immediately. The most common one that I see benefit from chiropractic is what is called a cervicogenic headache. This is the headache that can be mistaken for a migraine or tension headache. This pattern seems to wrap around the head. When I ask the patient where it hurts the patient hovers over the area above the ears and swoops to the forehead like a crown.
If you are suffering from headaches and you are sick of covering up the problem with drugs that have side-effects, then perhaps you can get to the bottom of the issue with chiropractic. If you are interested in reading more about natural healthcare, then visit our blog. You can also call 507-645-8000.