Chiropractic for Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are almost ubiquitous: at some point in our lives, we all experience that aching, tightening, or pressing sensation in heads. Despite their prevalence, there has been little research on complementary and alternatives treatment for chronic tension-type headaches. Recent research suggests that patients with chronic tension-type headaches could benefit from a combination of chiropractic adjustments and a medication called amitriptyline.
In a 2009 study, 19 adults with chronic tension headaches used a journal to establish how often they typically experienced headaches. They were then randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: 1) received amitriptyline and chiropractic, 2) received a placebo amitriptyline and chiropractic, 3) amitriptyline and a sham chiropractic treatment, and 4) placebo amitriptyline and a sham chiropractic.
Patients in both the chiropractic and amitriptyline groups experienced less headaches but neither treatment proved to be both clinically and statistically significant on its own. The most noticeable changes occurred in the combined treatment group which did see clinically and statistically significant results. Overall, patients in the combined treatment group had nine more headache-free days compared to when they started the intervention. This lead researchers to suggests that a "combined treatment might present an optimal approach to the management of [chronic tension-type headaches]." The researchers hypothesized that the combined treatment could address both the primary and secondary mechanisms behind tension headaches.
Given the fact that the trial ended early due to the small sample size, the researchers hesitated to draw any firm conclusions. Instead they suggested that larger studies be conducted to confirm these initial findings. Still, the findings point to promising results for sufferers of chronic tension headaches.
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. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2009; 32 (5):344-351.