Can a Chiropractor Help With Headaches?

Headache Types: The Facts You Need to Know

Daily headaches aren't something you "have to live with."

Top research publications have found chiropractic care can provide 50% or more relief for headaches without the risky side effects typically associated with drugs and medications.

Almost everyone will experience a headache at some point in their life. Fortunately, headaches are rarely life-threatening. But, for people dealing with chronic headaches; they can dramatically impact your quality of life.


The International Headache Society has classified over 150 different types of headaches. The most common are migraines, tension, and cluster headaches. Knowing what kind of headache you are dealing with is the first step towards finding the best plan of care to find relief.

  • Migraine: sensitivity to light and sound is common during migraine headaches. Approximately 1/3rd of people will experience an aura before the onset of a migraine

  • Tension: almost everyone will experience a tension headache during their life. Stress, anxiety, dehydration, and even posture can trigger a tension headache

  • Cluster: affecting more men than women, cluster headaches causes severe pain behind or around your eye and last between 15 minutes and 3 hours


Now that you've identified your headache type- it's important why it's happened. Next, we'll cover the top 3 causes of headaches so you will be able to take your first steps towards prevention.

Often a few simple changes in your daily routine have the potential to reduce or eliminate chronic headaches for good.

The Top 3 Causes of Headaches

A variety of factors can cause primary headaches. The good news is that many of these lifestyle factors are habits and patterns that you can control. By understanding a few of the most common causes of headaches, you will have the information to make the changes needed to find lasting relief!

Ironically, one of the most common causes of headaches is the medication usually prescribed to treat headaches. Overuse of many of over the counter medications is a leading factor in a refractory or bounce-back headache, which is why pills may not be the best option for care. Many tension headaches get their start with repetitive motion and poor posture while sitting or standing at work.


Keeping your shoulders back and your spine in proper alignment throughout the day can help prevent future episodes. And finally- most of the good stuff like coffee, cheese, alcohol, and meats have substances that can cause headaches. You don't need to eliminate them, but we recommend having a watchful eye towards moderation.

  • Medications: many commonly prescribed pain-relieving medications (including those prescribed for headache relief) list headaches as a top side effect

  • Foods: coffee, cheese, alcohol, and many types of meat contain substances that can contribute to headaches

  • Posture: forward head posture due to long hours sitting or standing at work is a primary factor in the development of tension and cervicogenic headaches

Do you see anything in the top 3 causes that may be contributing to your headaches? Taking a pro-active step of improving your posture and ergonomics at work, moderating the foods which cause headaches, or asking your medical doctor about the side effects of medications and potentially finding alternative treatment options may help you reduce the frequency, severity, and impact headaches are having in your life.

How to Find Natural Relief from Headaches

Finding natural relief for your headaches doesn't mean you need to join a food co-op and start eating granola with every meal. Natural, or organic, healthcare solutions are now being recommended by many leading healthcare organizations because of the reduction in dangerous side-effects, high patient satisfaction, and fantastic results of treatment.

Three of the most effective natural solutions for headaches include magnesium, chiropractic care, and b-vitamins. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to migraine headaches. Taking a magnesium supplement has the potential to reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches without any of the side-effects typically associated with painkillers.

B-vitamins are a powerful natural way to reduce stress and improve your mood. If stress is a significant factor in your headaches- B-vitamins may be a natural fit for relief. And finally, postural changes and muscle tensions are one of the leading causes of migraine headaches. Chiropractic care has been shown to help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of headaches. That's what I call a winning trifecta!

  • Magnesium: low levels of magnesium has been reported as a risk factor migraine headaches

  • Chiropractic: researchers have discovered a reduction in the frequency, severity, and duration of headaches for individuals under chiropractic care

  • B-Vitamins: these powerful vitamins have the potential to help reduce stress and improve mood which are essential factors when finding relief from headaches

As you can see, finding natural relief from headaches can be easy. What would your life look like if you could reduce, or eliminate chronic headaches?


Headaches Every Day? Keep reading…

Life can be busy and stressful. Sound familiar? If so, you may have an increased likelihood of developing headaches that start to become more frequent and severe. These chronic headaches are a good indication that your body needs attention. It could be related to a lack of quality sleep, nutritional challenges, or even postural issues that contribute to a vicious cycle of daily headaches.

Daily headaches are a signal from your body that something needs to change. While researchers have struggled to place an exact cause on every type of headache, they have discovered an array of risk factors that can lead to chronic headaches. Depending on the foods you eat, the stress in your life, and even how you move your body and spine can either increase or decrease the likelihood of experiencing headaches.

  • Your brain doesn't have any nerve fibers that transmit pain signals. Headaches are felt by the tissues that support your brain, head, and neck

  • Researchers have discovered a close link between what you eat, your stress and hormone levels, and how that can impact your chances of developing chronic headaches

  • A balanced diet, consistent sleeping patterns, and chiropractic care have all been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing chronic headaches

To learn more, tune into our weekly video series, Research That Matters TV.


Science Sources:

Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. SPINE 2010

Mayo Clinic. Headache. 2018

Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2012

The effect of 90-day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress. Human Psychopharmacology. 2011

Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. BMC Central. 2017

Medications and Substances Causing Headache. Medlink: Neurology. 2017


Reducing Tension Headaches Caused by Poor Posture

Ergonomics is the study of posture and positioning of your body. It sounds pretty boring until you consider that millions of people are suffering from headaches every day related to their posture! Whether it’s an assembly line, typewriter, computer, tablet, or phone, you are likely spending a lot of time looking down.

Research has found that up to 20 pounds of pressure is placed on your neck for every inch your chin extends forward or down. This increased pressure can irritate the tissues of your neck leading to everything from premature degenerative changes to chronic headaches.

Maintaining a healthy posture can not only help reduce the stress and pressure on the spinal joints of your neck- but it can also help dramatically reduce headaches. The first step in regaining a proper posture is to establish normal motion. This is why chiropractic adjustments are likely to become your new best friend.

Chiropractic care is focused on finding the areas of your spine which aren’t moving correctly and gently helping them regain their normal range of motion. After we have worked with you to restore proper movement, then we can focus on strengthening the muscles supporting your neck and back. This personalized type of care is how we have been able to help many people just like you establish better posture and reduce the frequency and severity of their headaches.

  • Every inch of forward head posture places up to 20 lbs of pressure on your neck
  • This pressure can contribute to tension headaches
  • Research has shown chiropractic care can dramatically improve your posture and reduce your headaches  

Take a look around your workstation the next time you are at the office. Is it set up in a way that's ergonomically correct? If not, or if you're not sure, just let your chiropractor know. They would be happy to set up a time to come to your office, evaluate your workplace, and provide specifics recommendations for improvement to help keep you and everyone you work with feeling great!  

Science Source:

Evidence-Based Guidelines for the Chiropractic Treatment of Adults with Headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Volume 34, Number 5. 2011

Efficacy of Manual and Manipulative Therapy in the Perception of Pain and Cervical Motion in Patients with Tension-Type Headache: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. (2014) 13, 4-13