Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Research Review Shows Spinal Manipulation Reduces Headache Pain and Disability

July 16, 2020


Headaches are a common condition reaching greater than 30 billion dollars each year in health care costs. The majority of headaches are multifactorial in nature but can commonly be broken down into tension/myofascial headache, migraine, cluster, and cervicogenic headaches. This finally category of headache includes pain referred to the head by the upper neck joints just beneath the skull. Cervicogenic headaches are found in close to 20% of patients with severe headaches and over half of all headaches in patients recovering from whiplash injuries or neck pain. Spinal manipulation by Physical Therapists have been shown to be very effective treatment for patients suffering from this type of headache. When combined with exercise patients can expect significant long term benefits in pain and disability. A recent review of the medical evidence documents the impact of spinal manipulation on patients with cervicogenic headache.

The European Journal of Pain reviewed and pooled data from 7 studies on the treatment of cervicogenic headache with spinal manipulation (Fernandez et al. 2020). Consistent with our clinical practice, authors found significant benefits in short term headache pain intensity, frequency, and disability following these treatments. Authors reported the effects of manipulation alone were not significant at long term follow up. The lack of long term results is consistent with prior research on manual therapy alone, but long term benefits can be found with high level strengthening programs designed to reduce long term pain, disability, and symptom recurrence.

Click Here to schedule your next session with the experts at MEND

Click Here

Top Headache Exercises