Chronic headaches and migraines afflict many Americans. The severity of pain can go from mild and intermittent to episodes of debilitating throbbing, unrelenting agony, as well as nausea. Relief comes from a variety of means, including over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, rest, and ice/heat packs on the forehead or neck. Sources of headaches include, but are not limited to, certain kinds of foods, sounds and excessive noise or bright lights, changes in blood sugar, and even too much exercise.
Some recent studies have shown that patients suffering from chronic headaches and migraines may benefit more from long-term chiropractic care than drug therapy alone. For headaches that originate in the cervical, or neck, area, chiropractic treatment, such as spinal manipulation, has been shown to be quite effective. A 2001 Duke University study, for example, found that spinal manipulation provided relief for patients with headaches that originate in the neck, and resulted in fewer side effects than medication. Researchers in that study concluded that such treatments as relaxation training, thermal biofeedback combined with relaxation training, electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and to a lesser degree, acupuncture, are all modestly effective in treating migraine headaches.
Close to 15 percent of people who visit a chiropractor do so to seek relief for pain from chronic headaches or migraines, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
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