Headaches are one of the most common ailments which lead people to initially consult with chiropractors. These are often classified into different categories, but the most common types that we see are tension type headaches and migraine headaches under the primary classification, and cervicogenic headaches (ie caused by the neck) under the secondary classification.

All sensation from the head and face runs through branches of a nerve called the trigeminal nerve. This nerve brings sensory signals to a “relay station” - called the trigeminal nucleus - in the brainstem before passing on to higher centres in the brain. Sensory nerves from the neck also land on this same relay station and, through various neurological mechanisms, have been observed to modify the pain signals before they reach the brain. This is one of the most current theories of neuroscience used to explain how specific chiropractic adjustments directed to the neck have helped patients who present with headaches.

Faulty posture can also contribute to headaches as forward head positioning increases, so does the tension on the neck muscles which attach onto the base of the skull. These same muscles can also be affected by stress. It is important to discuss all aspects of your headache with your chiropractor (ie how often they occur, how severe they are, whether there are any known triggers) so that we can accurately assess the cause and come up with an appropriate and effective solution. We will carefully evaluate your specific case to determine if treatment within the centre is appropriate or perhaps co-management or referral to another health provider is indicated.

Are you or a loved one suffering from debilitating headaches that are stopping you from living the life you desire? Call us to see if we can help overcome this tiresome cycle.


Chaibi A, Russell MB. Manual therapies for cervicogenic headache: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2012 Jul;13(5):351-9.Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2011 Apr;12(2):127-33.

Castien RF, van der Windt DA, Grooten A, Dekker J. Effectiveness of manual therapy for chronic tension-type headache: a pragmatic, randomised, clinical trial. Cephalalgia. 2011 Jan; 31(2):133-43Bove G, Nilsson N. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of episodic tension-type headache: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1576-9.

Vernon H, Jansz G, Goldsmith CH, McDermaid C. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of chiropractic and medical prophylactic treatment of adults with tension-type headache: results from a stopped trial. J Manipulative PhysiolTher. 2009 Jun;32(5):344-51.

Hall T, Chan HT, Christensen L, Odenthal B, Wells C, Robinson K. Efficacy of a C1-C2 self-sustained natural apophyseal glide (SNAG) in the management of cervicogenic headache. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2007 Mar;37(3):100-7.

Jull G, Trott P, Potter H, Zito G, Niere K, Shirley D, Emberson J, Marschner I, Richardson C. A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Sep 1;27(17):1835-43; discussion 1843.

Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, Boline P, Goldsmith C, Anderson AV. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for the prophylaxis of migraine headache. J Manipulative PhysiolTher. 1998 Oct;21(8):511-9.