Do you get headaches that seem to start with neck pain? Or do you get headaches that make you nauseous? If so, you might have what are called cervicogenic headaches or you might be experiencing a migraine headache. If you do not want to have headaches at all, then this is information is for you!

As a chiropractor, I have successfully treated many patients for headaches of every sort. Let me start by giving you some general information on headaches.

First of all, when you get a headache, do you seek professional medical care or do you just wait it out and take over the counter headache relief? Please know, it is important that you find out what kind of headache(s) you have. Only a medical professional can help you with this. Not all headaches are the same or have the same causes. Chiropractic doctors are specifically trained to evaluate your headache history and also assess its cause and type by physically examining your neck, back and shoulders.

Cervicogenic Headaches

One common type of headache is a cervicogenic headache. Cervicogenic headaches are sometimes confused with migraine headaches but are in fact quite different. Cervicogenic headaches  most often occur when you hold your head in a specific position that can aggravate and stress your neck. This pain tends to travel up the sides of your neck to your temples and soon becomes a nasty headache. My patients with these types of headaches typically also have complaints about their jaws clicking or popping. They may be unable to open their mouths wide and sometimes they experience nighttime grinding of teeth. Please know that cervicogenic headaches typically do not improve if you take over the counter pain medications.1

Migraine Headaches

Another common type of headache is the migraine headache. People who have migraines often complain they see auras. Auras are the sensation of seeing colors or odd shapes. They may even experience actual changes in their field of vision. Migraine headaches can also be triggered by eating aged cheeses, chocolate, caffeine or foods to which you are allergic or reactive (you may not know you are actually allergic to them).

Migraines classically occur along with other physical complaints that can become severe, such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light or noise. Migraines, along with extreme pain or other intense symptoms, can tend to immobilize people.

Chiropractic Adjustments Can Reduce Cervicogenic and Migraine Headaches

Whether you have cervicogenic headaches, migraine headaches or both, the good news is that current research indicates that these types of headaches can improve when you receive chiropractic adjustments.2

A 2001 Duke University report says the following about chiropractic care as it relates to cervicogenic headaches:

  • Cervical spinal manipulation was associated with improvement in headache outcomes in two trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache. Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache…
  • Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity.3

In 2002, an Australian clinical trial focused on use of chiropractic manipulations to treat cervicogenic headache pain. Seventy-one percent of participants experienced a greater than 50% reduction in the number of their headaches overall. Thirty-three percent reported their headaches completely resolved.4

Although many patients and doctors tend towards medications for headache pain relief, when treating cervicogenic headaches, medications are usually not effective. Although some medications can be helpful for migraine headaches, these can have unpleasant side effects and there can be limits on how often a medication can be used.

Chiropractic medicine offers proven options to gently realign your neck and spine to help improve circulation as well as reduce aggravation of headache pain. If you or someone you love suffers from headache pain, consider chiropractic medicine to help improve the quality of your life—no more headaches!

1Chaibi, A., Knackstedt, H., Tuchin, P.J., Bjorn Russell, M. (2017). Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trail. BMC Research Notes 10:310, 1-8.

doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4.

2Bronfort G., Assendelft W.J.J., Evans R.L., Haas M., Bouter L.M. (2001).  Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: A systematic review. Journal of Manipulative Physiology Therapy, 24, 457-66.

3Jull, G., Trott, P., Potter, H., Zito, G., Niere, K., Shirley, D. … Richardson, C. (2002). A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine, 27, 1835-1843.

4McCrory, D.C., Penzien, D.B., Hasselblad, V., Gray, R.N. (2001). Behavior and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache. Retrieved from: