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Headache Pain

Information on Headaches and Chiropractic Care

Headaches can sideline you with pressure, tightness, pain, and tension. The resulting pain can be sharp or dull, and may last for a few minutes or a few days. Studies have shown that chiropractic care can be a highly effective method of treating the underlying cause of headaches without resorting to pain masking medication, since more than 80% of headaches originate in the neck or have components of mal-positioned vertebrae in the neck. Learn more about how chiropractic adjustments can reduce the frequency and intensity of your headaches at West Hartford Chiropractic.

Female suffering from a headache in Hartford, CT

How a Headache Chiropractor Can Help You Heal 

Chiropractic treatments can reduce the headaches and in many times eliminate the headaches, especially those that are originate in the neck, skull bones, upper back and shoulders. Our adjustments can also have a positive effect on underlying conditions that contribute to headaches, such as TMJ (Jaw Pain), tight neck muscles, shoulder tension, Rib pain, and mal-position of the skull bones, using gentle effective specific chiropractic techniques 

When you visit our headache chiropractor, we will perform a thorough evaluation to locate the underlying neuro- musculoskeletal factors that may be contributing to your headaches. We will then develop an individualized treatment plan that aims to restore your neck and spinal alignment, reduce your tension, and ultimately keep headaches at bay. 

By adjusting the ligaments and joints of your neck and spine, we can reverse subluxations that put extra pressure on the neck. Simply by making needed adjustments to the upper two cervical vertebrae, we can greatly reduce the number of headaches you experience - even for migraines! 

Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic adjustments have shown the ability to decrease high blood pressure- another cause of headaches, by 15-25 mmHg.

We know that bad posture and stress are a known cause of tension headaches. We can improve your posture so that you do not have physical stressors along the muscles in your neck and upper back. By taking away this stress, we can also reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of your headaches and ultimately eliminate your headaches. 

Once we have treated the underlying conditions, we will focus on keeping you well. We may perform occasional adjustments as a tune-up, or recommend at-home exercises. 

Chiropractic Care for Headaches


Chiropractors have a wide variety of tools available to treat pain in general and headaches in particular.  These tools include Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) or Cold Laser Therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Craniosacral Therapy (CST), Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) gentle adjustments, Spinal Manipulation Therapy (SMT) and Activator Method.

LLLT uses a type of laser that puts out red or near-infrared light.  This type of laser does not heat the skin or underlying tissue, so it is also called Cold Laser Therapy.  The laser is directed at the skin at the site of and injury to improve wound and soft tissue healing.  This can provide relief for both acute and chronic pain.  LLLT has shown great promise for chronic pain in areas directly related to the spine, such as the lower back .  Even more important, LLLT causes the growth of new blood vessels to supply an injured or diseased tissue.  This process, called vascularization, promotes healing by bringing more blood, and therefore more nutrients and healing factors, to the area.

Like LLLT, TENS is used to relieve pain by applying energy to the skin to treat the soft tissues underneath.  Unlike LLLT, however, TENS uses electrical currents.  This doesn't mean that the chiropractor will be sending electrical shocks through your body, quite the opposite, in fact.  The TENS electrodes induce electrical currents, which is what your nervous system also does.  There are generally two modes for TENS, one that uses high frequency currents that are weaker than the nervous system signals and one that uses lower frequency currents strong enough to produce muscle contraction, but not pain.  TENS has also been shown to reduce chronic musculoskeletal pain  by using two different mechanisms.  The electric current stimulates a type of nerve fibers that interferes with the perception of pain (called the gate-control mechanism) and it also provides a path for the body's own pain relievers.  The brain produces a group of chemicals called endorphins to reduce pain.  Usually, when pain or an injury causes these to be released, they travel throughout the body.  TENS can help direct the flow of endorphins to the specific spot that needs them, multiplying the effect they have.
Craniosacral Therapy is a treatment therapy that gently works with the patient's skull, spine and the cranial sutures,  spinal fascia, and related tissues.  This reduces pressure on nerves, helps restore proper flow of the cerebrospinal fluid, and return misaligned bones to their proper positions.  Chiropractors physicians have used CST to treat neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and chronic pain conditions.

The temporomandibular joint is the joint where the lower jaw pivots against the rest of the skull.  Misalignments of the structures of this joint cause widespread pain that affects not merely the lower jaw bone, but also nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, menisci, several muscles and more.  Correctly aligning this joint through gentle adjustments can reduce or eliminate many cases of long-standing pain in the head that have been resistant to other treatments.

SMT is the type of therapy that most people think of when they think of chiropractors, and was the foundation of modern chiropractic when it was founded in the 1800's.  SMT is actually a large collection of techniques that apply force or pressure to an area of the spine, which the chiropractor will combine as needed.  Some of these techniques include massage or mobilization of soft tissue, adjustment of spinal subluxations, trigger point therapy, cross-friction massage, active release therapy, mechanical traction or of external resistance on an area of the spine or on an extremity.  SMT is also probably the alternative therapy that has the best evidence for efficacy in treating chronic headaches.  In one analysis of nine separate studies involving almost 700 patients, SMT was shown to be as effective as drugs in treating the most common chronic headaches.

Activator Method is a low-force chiropractic adjustment technique that uses specially-designed instruments to help the chiropractor restore spinal balance.  By providing a controlled force in a specific direction and amount, this method provides faster adjustments that are better than manual adjustments for some patients.  Like all direct manipulation methods, Activator Method evaluates, monitors and affects the nervous system and its reflex mechanisms and is not simply a method of moving bones. 

What Is the Difference Between a Headache and Migraine?

A headache, typically, occurs when the muscles between the neck and back are contracting. Many people who complain about headaches state that the pain can be felt on the lower back part of their head. When a person has a migraine, though, the pain tends to be severe and throbbing and it sends pain from side to side in the head. A headache will usually go away after only a few hours. A migraine, though, can last for many days.

Common Causes of Headaches

The most common recurring headaches are treatable through chiropractic treatments.   There are many different causes of headaches, however, and chiropractic can treat most of these cases.  Headaches fall into these classifications:

  • Cervicogenic-migraine complex
  • Cervicogenic headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Tension headaches
  • Disorders of head and neck structures, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Post-concussion headache
  • Cluster headaches
  • Miscellaneous "benign" headaches, a category that includes ice cream headaches, headaches from exertion, and headaches from external compression (as in a tight-fitting helmet) that are not related to an underlying disorder
  • Head trauma, which can either be acute (immediately after the trauma) or chronic (persisting for a long time past the trauma)
  • Vascular disorders, one of the most dangerous but also one of the least common causes of headache.  They range from acute bleeding into the spaces between the brain and the skull to long-term irritation of the veins and arteries supplying the brain.
  • Postural headaches, which are headaches that are related to blood pressure changes from changing position, such as from lying down to standing up.
  • Infections like meningitis and encephalitis
  • Headaches caused by tumors and other growths
  • Drugs and alcohol, including prescription medications like nitrates and nitrites
  • Headache from bacterial or viral infections, like the flu
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Irritation of the nerves that come from the brain stem and supply the head and neck

Cervicogenic-Migraine Complex

Cervicogenic-Migraine Complex is a new classification of headaches.  Research is emerging that suggests that two formerly separate classifications are part of a continuum of head pain.  These two classifications are cervicogenic and migraine headaches.  Together, they make the most common source of recurring head pain, and evidence shows that chiropractic care is very useful in treating them.


Common Causes of Migraines

  • Food additives
  • Hormonal changes
  • Extreme stress/anxiety
  • Medications
  • Changes in environment
  • Sensory stimuli
  • Alcohol

See a Chiropractor for Headaches and Migraines

Not only can our West Hartford, CT chiropractor help you suffer fewer headaches, we can help you make informed lifestyle choices that may reduce your headaches and pain. Some foods are more likely to trigger a headache, as may chronic stress and emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant. We can assist you with identifying lifestyle triggers that may be causing your headaches and modifying behaviors accordingly. We can also help you keep a headache journal, so that you can begin to understand which patterns or behaviors may be causing your headaches. 

When it comes to chiropractic and headaches, we often find that it takes a series of chiropractic adjustments to make a difference in your headaches. However, many of our patients report reduced tension, increased mobility, and a better mood from the first visit onward. When you see our chiropractor, modify your lifestyle habits, and avoid known triggers that cause headaches, you will enjoy fewer headaches going forward and have more energy to accomplish needed tasks. 

Further Reading: 

Headache? Your Chiropractor Can Help

Chiropractic Care for Headaches and Migraines

Migraines with Chiropractic

Contact Our West Hartford Office

Schedule an appointment with us today and take charge of your health at West Hartford Chiropractic by calling (860) 232-5556 or completing the online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you experience better health. 

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