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Headaches are a common complaint that can be caused by a wide range of factors. Estimates show half to three quarters of adults aged 18–65 years worldwide have suffered with some form of headache in the last year and that, among those individuals, up to 4% put up with with headaches 15 or more days per month. Headache disorders are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life and a significant financial cost.

Headaches that can be traced to disorders in the neck are called cervicogenic (literally "neck originating") headaches and this type of headache may affect as many as 20 percent of patients experiencing chronic head pain. Although the symptoms are similar to those of tension headaches and migraines, cervicogenic headaches are often a result of injury or other trauma. Sometimes this injury or trauma occured in childhood and can be of a very minor nature. Because cervicogenic headaches can restrict a patient’s range of motion, this condition can seriously impact physical abilities and overall quality of life.

New research published in Chiropractic & Osteopathy provides additional support for using chiropractic to treat cervicogenic headaches. A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon, compared the effects of the chiropractic adjustment to massage on a group of 80 patients suffering from cervicogenic headache. They found that over a 12-week period, 42% of study participants who received chiropractic treatment reported significant pain reduction compared to just 23% of those who received massage. During that same period, the chiropractic group experienced a greater reduction in the number of headaches (64% versus 46%) and reported that pain interfered less with their daily activities.

After 24 weeks, patients in the chiropractic group continued to experience greater benefit from their treatment, with 56% reporting that their head pain was less disabling compared to 38% improvement among the control group. Over three-quarters of participants who received chiropractic treatment noted some reduction in the number of headaches during the course of the study.

The study’s authors conclude that, "Spinal manipulation (researcherese for "the chiropractic adjustment") had a clinically important advantage over massage in headache pain, number, and disability." Their research shows that chiropractic treatment can have substantial and lasting benefits for a significant percentage of people suffering from cervicogenic headaches.

Dr. Brad Dahlager, a Noblesville, IN chiropractor practicing at Noblesville Family Chiropractic, uses traditional chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue techniques, nutritional counseling and exercise therapy to reduce the pain and correct the cause of headaches for patients in Noblesville, Carmel, Westfield, Fishers and surrounding HamiltonCounty. He'll work with you and your existing healthcare providers to provide non-invasive, effective management of your headaches.

How much longer will you allow your headaches to dictate your quality of life? How much longer will you sit on the sidelines because of head pain? Why not call a specially trained chiropractor in Noblesville, IN, Dr. Brad Dahlager, for help? By scheduling your appointment for a check-up with Dr. Dahlager at Noblesville Family Chiropractic you can begin to explore your options today.


  • Haas M, Schneider M, Vavrek D. Illustrating risk difference and number needed to treat from a randomized controlled trial of spinal manipulation for cervicogenic headache. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010; 18:9.
  • World Health Organization, Headache Disorders, Fact Sheet #277, October 2012.
  • Haldeman S, Dagenais S. Cervicogenic headaches: a critical review. Spine J.2001; 1(1):31 -46.