Do you ever experience neck stiffness or pain with your headaches? Recent research suggests that neck and head pain are more related than you think.
One study examined whether headaches and cervical spine impairment were linked in patients with head pain. Of the patients evaluated, 90% had cervicogenic headaches, or headaches linked to neck pain. Furthermore, the severity of patients’ headaches impacted the range of motion in their necks. This study demonstrates the strong relationship between cervical spine (neck) impairment and cervicogenic headaches.
Visit a chiropractor in your area to determine whether your headaches are related to impairment and pain in your neck.
Hall TM, Briffa K, Hopper D, Robinson KW. The relationship between cervicogenic headache and impairment determined by the flexion-rotation test. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy. 2010 Nov-Dec; 33(9):666-71.
It’s well-known that chiropractic is effective for a variety of pain conditions, but over the last few years, more and more studies have found that chiropractic can also help us improve our overall health. Some of these recent studies have shown that chiropractic can alter immune function, affect heart rate, and even reduce blood pressure. A 2011 study from Japan suggests that chiropractic may have an even bigger impact on your body than you think.
Stress is an incredibly important indicator of health, and if there's one thing that will kick your immune system into overdrive, it's chronic spinal pain. Scientists in Japan sought to see whether chiropractic could alter stress levels in 12 men and women with neck pain. To understand how chiropractic impacts anxious emotions, you could ask patients to report their changing moods before and after treatment. But scientists in Japan wanted to get a more objective picture of how chiropractic adjustments impact the nervous system, so they use PET scans to monitor brain activity and salvia samples to track hormone changes.
After receiving a chiropractic neck adjustment, patients had altered brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for pain processing and stress reactions. They also had significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating decreased stress. Participants also reported lower pain scores and a better quality of life after treatment.
The findings suggests that chiropractic adjustments affect how our body interprets and copes with pain, which could enhance its response to disease and injury. As scientists learn more about the human body and the role of the nervous system, it’s clear that chiropractic can play a powerful role in promoting true wellness, rather than just symptom relief.
Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.
Back surgery isn't a magic bullet for relief: studies show that up to 40% of patients continue to suffer from back pain despite having had surgery. Many of these patients are told they need another surgery, but the success rate for second surgeries is even lower.
That was the case for one construction worker in a recent case study who suffered from lumbar disc herniation after failed back surgery. As a manager of his family business, he couldn't take time of work to recover from another surgery, so opted for chiropractic. After 12 weeks of chiropractic care, the man's pain scores went from a 10 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10, and his disability scores dropped by 32%. Nine visits later, he continued to experience no flare-ups in pain.
This case study adds to earlier research showing that patients do not need to resort to revision surgery. Chiropractic can get to the source of back pain to get you back to work sooner.
De Andres J, et al. Patient satisfaction with spinal cord stimulation for failed back surgery syndrome [Article in Spanish.] Revista Española Anestesiolgía y reanimación 2007; 54 (1): 17-22.
Morningstar MW, et al. Manipulation under anesthesia for patients with failed back surgery: retrospective report of 3 cases with 1-year follow-up. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2012; 11 (1): 20-35.
Welk, AB. Conservative management of recurrent lumbar disc herniation with epidural fibrosis: a case report. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2012; 11: 249-253.
Adding more rice, seeds, and oats to your diet just might make a difference in your back-pain treatment. That's because new research shows that magnesium commonly found in those foods may reduce back pain.
Researchers from Egypt tested the effects of magnesium supplementation in 80 patients with back pain. Throughout the study, all the patients continued their normal treatment which included physical therapy, pain medication, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.Half of patients received magnesium supplementation delivered through an IV for two weeks, followed by four weeks of taking magnesium capsules. The other half of patients were given placebo IVs and capsules.
After four weeks, the magnesium patients had significantly better improvements compared to the placebo group. By the six month follow-up visit, their average pain intensity had decreased from a 7.5 on a scale of 10 to a 4.7. This reduced pain was accompanied by better range of motion in the spine. The researchers concluded that magnesium IV followed by four weeks of oral magnesium supplements can reduce pain and improve lumbar spine mobility in back-pain patients.
Recent research also suggests that magnesium can reduce symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia, back pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions frequently experience central sensitization. This process occurs when the central nervous system is overstimulated, causing widespread pain and additional symptoms. Current research suggests that magnesium may block a key receptor involved in central sensitization, which could explain why the patients taking magnesium had better treatment outcomes.
Although more studies are needed, the findings suggest that magnesium supplements could play a role in successfully treating back pain.
Yousef AA and Al-deeb AE. A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Anaesthesia 2013;68(3):260-6. doi: 10.1111/anae.12107.
Let's face it: cost is an important factor when we're considering our health-care options. We want quality care that works without racking up unnecessary medical bills.
A growing body of research shows that chiropractic is both effective and less expensive than more invasive medical treatments.
In a recent study, researchers analyzed the medical spending of over 12,000 adults with spine conditions. They discovered that people who use alternative therapies have lower annual health-care costs compared to patients receiving traditional treatments.
Chiropractic care contributed significantly to reduced costs since chiropractic accounted for 75% of alternative therapy use.
Earlier research has found that chiropractic prevented recurring disability in patients with back pain which could help to minimize medical spending.
Studies have also suggested that chiropractic cuts costs for patients by helping them avoid unnecessary procedures, tests, surgeries, and expensive drugs.
Instead, chiropractors work to harness the body's innate healing capabilities with a combination of natural, effective modalities.
1. Martins B, et al. The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems. Medical Care 2012; 50 (12): 1029-1036. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318269e0b2.
2. Cifuentes M, Willetts J, Wasiak R. Health maintenance care in work-related low back pain and its association with disability recurrence. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2011; 53(4): 396-404.
Higher Pain Tolerance
Active women may have a higher pain tolerance than inactive peers. A new study found that women who regularly engaged in vigorous activity were less sensitive to pain than inactive women.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital enlisted 21 healthy women to participate in the study. Using self-reported and accelerometer measures of physical activity, they classified women as meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity or not. Women then underwent a procedure involving noxious thermal stimuli and reported their experiences with unpleasantness and pain.
Higher Activity, Less Pain Sensitivity
Active women experienced less pain and unpleasantness than inactive women. The more minutes a participant regularly spent performing vigorous exercise, the less pain intensity and pain unpleasantness she experienced. This significant relationship was not found for moderate activity or sedentary time.
Ellingson LD, Colbert LH, Cook DB. Physical activity is related to pain sensitivity in healthy women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012;4 4(7):1401-6.
Failed Back-Pain Surgery
Up to 40% of patients who undergo back-pain surgery fail to improve after the initial operation.1 Unfortunately, many of these patients will go on to have second or third operations in attempts to correct the shortcomings of the first. Before resorting to additional surgery, many patients could benefit from non-surgical treatments. A recent small study suggests that chiropractic treatments could be a viable option for patients recovering from failed-back pain surgery syndrome.2
Non-Surgical Treatment Option
Manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) is a chiropractic procedure performed to increase patients' range of motion and reduce chronic pain levels. Although there are many studies on MUA, few have examined its success when used to treat chronic pain after failed back surgery.
Report on Manipulation Under Anesthesia
One recently-released report describes the cases of three patients who previously underwent unsuccessful spinal fusion surgery to treat disc herniation. After the surgery, their pain and disability levels did not improve. All three patients had chronic intractable pain and underwent serial MUA over 3 days.
Patients were in deep conscious sedation during the MUA sessions. It is believed that MUA has a greater impact on disk function than non-anesthetized chiropractic care because the anesthesia allows for more complete mobilization of the intervertebral disks, while pain limits range of motion when patients are awake.
Results in Report
Following MUA treatment, patients were enrolled in 8 week rehabilitation program that included physiotherapy. All three patients experienced significant improvements in pain and disability. These improvements were maintained through the 1-year follow-up visit, suggesting that this manual therapy could have a lasting impact on the flexibility of spinal joints or the function of the intervertebral disk.
Chiropractic May Help You
Chiropractic could be an effective, non-surgical alternative for failed surgery patients seeking to avoid the costs and risk of additional operations. Previous research has also found that chiropractic can prevent recurring back pain.
1. De Andres J, et al. Patient satisfaction with spinal cord stimulation for failed back surgery syndrome [Article in Spanish.] Revista Española Anestesiolgía y reanimación 2007; 54 (1): 17-22.
2. Morningstar MW, et al. Manipulation under Manipulation under anesthesia for patients with failed back surgery: retrospective report of 3 cases with 1-year follow-up. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2012; 11 (1): 20-35.
Older Adults Less Likely to Seek Care
Aging frequently comes with new aches and pains. Statistics show that while older adults experience back pain more frequently than younger adults, they are less likely to seek medical care for the pain.
Don't Live in Pain
However, they need not resign themselves to a life of pain. Chiropractic treatments offer a safe and effective way to treat many aging-related conditions. For example, chiropractic adjustments can alleviate neck, back, and joint pain, while relieving the pain caused by spinal degeneration, osteoarthritis, or scoliosis. Chiropractic care may also prevent falls in older adults by improving gait, balance, and strength.
Decrease Pain with Chiropractic
In a 2009 study, researchers concluded that older patients who received chiropractic adjustments experienced substantially lower levels of disability and pain when compared with patients who did not receive chiropractic care.
Chiropractic treatments work best when combined with proper nutrition and exercise. A recent study found that older adults who were physically active had lower levels of pain-related disability than those who were not active.
Chiropractic care can do more than treat your aches and pains; it can help you lead a fulfilling and healthy life, no matter your age.
Dougherty PE, Hawk C, and Weiner D, et al. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies 2012; 20 (3): doi:10.1186/2045-709X-20-3.
Hondras MA, Long CR, Cao Y, Rowell RM, Meeker WC. A randomized controlledtrial comparing 2 types of spinal manipulation and minimal conservative medical care for adults 55 years and older with subacute or chronic low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapy 2009; 32:330–343.
Hicks GE, Benvenuti F, Fiaschi V, Lombardi B, Segenni L, Stuart M, Pretzer-Aboff I, Gianfranco G, Macchi C. Adherence to a community-based exercise program is a strong predictor of improved back pain status in older adults: an observational study. Clinical Journal of Pain 2012; 28(3):195-203.
According to a recent study, patients treated with chiropractic adjustments experienced a 50% reduction in the number of cervicogenic headaches they experienced.
What Are Cervicogenic Headaches?
Cervicogenic headaches are non-throbbing, steady headaches felt at the back of the head, with pain extending downwards through the neck and between the shoulder blades. Some patients also experience dizziness. Such headaches are caused by dysfunction in the cervical spine (the portion of the spine located in the neck).
Previous studies showed that chiropractic treatments can alleviate both the pain and disability resulting from cervicogenic headaches. This study showed that chiropractic treatments can also reduce the frequency of such headaches.
The research involved 80 people with chronic cervicogenic headaches. Patients received either light massage or chiropractic adjustments. Within each group, half received high doses of the treatment, while the other patients received lower doses. The light massage treatments involved several minutes of gentle neck and shoulder massage, while the chiropractic treatments consisted of high-velocity, low-amplitude adjustments of the upper back and neck.
Improvements with Chiropractic
Patients who received chiropractic treatments improved substantially more than those receiving massage. On average, chiropractic patients saw their headaches cut in half. At the conclusion of the study, chiropractic patients required one-third less pain medication than at the start, and reported a 50% reduction in symptoms.
The researchers found no major differences between patients receiving 8 chiropractic treatments and those who received 16 treatments. Those who received more treatments did have slightly more improvements in terms of neck disability. More research is needed to determine the optimum number of chiropractic treatments, but the researchers have concluded that chiropractic adjustments are an effective method of treating cervicogenic headaches. Research shows that chiropractic can also relieve migraine headaches.
Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal 2010; 10: 117-128.