Recent and ongoing research has demonstrated the potential that disorders of the neck have to aggravate migraine and other forms of headache. Even though the types and causes of headaches can differ widely, there are some common threads that prevail that make particular treatment approaches effective in reducing, if not eliminating, them.


Clinical evidence has consistently demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of physical therapy as practiced by chiropractors for the management and treatment of headaches and migraine.


A chiropractor will not only explain the role disorders of the neck and muscles can have in the headache and migraine process but also undertake a skilled and responsible assessment of your headache or migraine. This involves taking a detailed history, mapping out the area of headache and analysing the behavior of symptoms. This is followed by relevant testing including orthopaedic and neurological tests as required and an in-depth physical examination of your neck and upper back.


Chiropractic treatments consist of gentle manipulation and mobilisation techniques known as adjustments to restore function, mobility and balance to spinal joints. Chiropractic management also includes muscular techniques, rehabilitative exercises, patient education, lifestyle modification and the use of physical therapies and supports. There is an emphasis on health promotion and early return to activities for patients. The focus on education and patient empowerment is an important factor in the success of chiropractic management and the high levels of patient satisfaction.


Headache treatment, using chiropractic and spinal manipulation, with and without mobilisation, soft tissue work and exercise, is validated in a number of research studies. Not all headache and migraine types are suitable for chiropractic treatment, however the first stage of moving forward with treatment is the diagnosis and diagnostic triage.


Timely access to physical treatment can reduce frequency and severity of headaches and migraines thus preventing chronicity and in so doing, reduce the negative impact these chronic conditions can have on individuals. Early intervention through chiropractic care can often reduce the length of time that people are absent from work as a result of headache and migraines. This will facilitate an early return to normal everyday activities.


Chiropractic Headache Research


  • Evidence-based guidelines for migraine headache (evidence-based review): Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology Stephen D. Silberstein (2008)
  • Evidence Report: Behavioural and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache. Duke University
  • Evidence-based Practice Center. Center for Clinical Health Policy Research 2008 Douglas C. McCrory, MD (2008)
  • Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Headache: A Systematic Review. Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD JMPT – September 2001
  • The effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J.: J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1997
  • Alix M E, DC, Bates D K, DC Proposed Etiology of Cervicogenic Headache: The Neurophysiologic Basis and Anatomic Relationship Between the Dura Mater and the Rectus Posterior Capitis Minor Muscle. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Vol 22 • Number 8 • Oct 1999
  • Bronfort G, DC, PhD, . Assendelf W J Jt, MD, PhD, Evans R, DC Haas M, DC, BouterL, PhDd Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Headache: A Systematic Review Journal of Manipulative and Physiological TherapeuticsVolume 24 • Number 7 • September 2001
  • Cibulka_M , Sternocleidomastoid muscle imbalance in a patient with recurrent headache, Manual Therapy 11 (2006) 78–82
  • Lenssincka M B, Damena L,*, Verhagena A P et al. The Effectiveness of Physiotherapy and Manipulation in Patients with Tension-Type Headache: A Systematic Review. Pain 112 (2004) 381–388
  • Thorn B E, Pence L B, Ward C L et al A Randomized Clinical Trial of Targeted Cognitive Behavioral Treatment to Reduce Catastrophizing in Chronic Headache Sufferers The Journal of Pain, Vol 8, No 12 (December), 2007: pp 938-949
  • Vernon H, DC, PhD, Jansz G, PhD, MD, Goldsmith H, PhD et al, Randomised, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of Chiropractic and Medical Prophylactic Treatment Of Adults with Tension-Type Headache: Results from a Stopped Trial Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 345 Volume 32, Number 5. 2009
  • Whin P D, GradDipChiro, DipOHS,” Pollard H, GradDipDChiro, GradDipAppSc, and Bonello R, DC, DO. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Migraine. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Vol 23 – Number 2. Feb 2000