In a study published February 23, 2018 in The Spine Journal – Official Journal of the North American Spine Society, researchers sought to quantify the optimal number of visits for spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) in treating chronic cervicogenic headache (CGH). It also evaluated the efficacy of SMT compared to light-massage.
Over 250 patients with chronic CGH were randomly divided into 4 groups. Patients were treated 3 times per week for 6 weeks. One would receive light massage only during the treatment period and serve as the control group. The other groups would receive 6, 12, or 18 spinal manipulations during that time and light-massage at the sessions when SMT was not performed. Participants were reevaluated at 6, 12, 24, 39 and 52 weeks.
Results showed that participants reported a reduction of in cervicogenic headache frequency. Those who received the highest number of SMT (18) over the 6 week period, saw a 50% reduction from 16 CGH days down to 8 in a month. Subjects with fewer SMT visits did improve, but not at the same magnitude.
Across the board, participants reported approximately 1 CGH day less per month for each 6 SMT visits they received. This study was limited to the effects of 0-18 spinal manipulative therapy over 6 weeks. Because the frequency of CGH decreased as SMT increased, it is possible that additional SMT could provide even more reduction in frequency up to the elimination of chronic cervicogenic headache.
This is great news for people with chronic headaches. Rather than taking pain medications with side effects, chiropractic can curb the occurrence of cervicogenic headaches. You don’t have to wait until you are having headaches repeatedly to get help! It is logical that if patients are able to receive SMT when they initially begin having headaches, that they may not develop a chronic condition.
If you or a loved one suffers from chronic headaches, talk to your local chiropractor about how you can achieve drug-free relief. If you do not have a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor here.
REFERENCE: Mitchell Haas, DC, MA; Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD; Roni Evans, DC, PhD; Craig Schulz, DC, MS; Darcy Vavrek, ND, MS; Leslie Takaki, MA; Linda Hanson, DC, MS; Brent Leininger, DC, MS; Moni B. Neradilek, MS. “Dose-response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for care of cervicogenic headache: a dual-center randomized controlled trial.” The Spine Journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2018.02.019