The title above is from a release by the American Chiropractic Association on August 2, 2013, that appeared in several news outlets including the American News. The release, and several associated news articles discuss how chiropractic helps people who suffer from headaches.
The ACA release begins by noting, "If you have a headache, you're not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea."
Another article about chiropractic and headaches in the Merritt Herald from Canada on July 24, 2013, starts by stating, "Did you know that one of the most common forms of headache is actually caused by problems in the neck?"
The ACA release reported on research of how chiropractic helps headaches by noting, "A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, N.C., found that spinal manipulation (adjustments) resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication."
Using chiropractic care for headaches is not a common medical procedure. This fact was illustrated in the Merritt Herald article, "Unfortunately, the medical understanding of headaches often does not take into account the chiropractic model, which remains foreign to many within the medical profession."
The Merritt Herald article also reported that this information is not new, noting that, "In 1995, a team of MDs at Syracuse University established neck problems as the cause of many headaches with scientific, anatomical proof." The researchers were headed up by Dr. Rothbart, a medical doctor.
In an interview after the research, Dr. Rothbart stated, "Some brilliant people have put their hearts, souls and minds to this (headache) problem and haven't come up with anything. All we've been able to do is treat people with an array of medicines, one after the other, and hope the side effects won't be too bad. We couldn’t believe it at first. We've been able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches — not all headaches, but a significant number of them. It's true that chiropractors have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, many (medical) doctors tend to have a jaundiced view of chiropractors, but they were right about headaches."
In the November 30, 2015, issue of the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research, is a case study showing a patient suffering from Meniere's disease being helped with chiropractic. According to the Mayo Clinic website, "Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes in which you feel as if you're spinning (vertigo), and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear."
The authors of this case study discuss how common this condition is by reporting that there are currently approximately 615,000 people in the United States diagnosed with Meniere's disease and 45,500 new cases are diagnosed each year. In many cases, Meniere's disease is associated with dizziness, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances and severe equilibrium dysfunction.
In this case, a 63-year-old woman suffering from Meniere's disease went to a chiropractor after unsuccessful surgical management for her condition. She had been suffering with this problem for 14 years without relief. The woman's symptoms included unsteadiness, nausea, ongoing hearing loss, anxiety, and a jerking or twitching of her eyes. Upon her first visit to the chiropractor, her condition was so bad that she was unable to walk unassisted and required her husband's assistance.
A chiropractic examination was performed and showed a restriction in the motion of her neck as well as pain upon neck pressure and positive palpation findings, muscle tone changes, and functional leg length deficiencies. X-rays of the upper neck were taken and it was determined that subluxation was present in the upper neck. Based on the examination and x-ray findings, specific chiropractic adjustments were begun to correct subluxation.
The results were nearly immediate in this case. In describing the results of her first chiropractic adjustment the woman stated, "As soon as I sat up I was normal again." She continued, "It was great to have the feeling that I would not have to take medication any longer to make it go away." Her recovery was so complete that she was able to discontinue her medications for the Meniere's disease she had been treating medically for 14 years.
In noting how unsuccessful medical care is for cases of Meniere's disease, as well as the possibility of medical and surgical side effects, the authors note in their discussion that, "There needs to be more awareness and improved education toward helping those individuals whom suffer with Meniere's disease to find a safer and less invasive solution to their problem."
A common question from patients in a chiropractic office is, "Can I adjust myself?" A study published on April 22, 2015, in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research demonstrates that self-manipulation of the spine is not as effective as a specifically given chiropractic adjustment.
The study begins by pointing out that forms of spinal manipulation have been used in the treatment of lower back pain by many different types of practitioners. The study authors stated the purpose of the study by saying, "It is hypothesized that self-manipulation of the lumbar spine, without the utilization of an experienced practitioner, can result in therapeutic benefits but can also cause instability and chronic low back pain."
The authors report that prior to this study there have been no scientific studies showing that self-manipulation is either beneficial or harmful. They note that there has been much research on the benefits of spinal manipulation for those suffering from back pain. The difficulty in a study of self-manipulation is that there is a wide variety of variables in self-rendered care of any kind.
In the specific case documented for this study, a 17-year-old boy came to the chiropractor suffering from chronic lower back pain that he had been experiencing for over a year. The boy was very active in sports and his problem may have coincided with a weightlifting injury he sustained near the time his problems started to appear.
The boy was treated with pain medications and injections, but these provided little help. As a result, he resorted to self-manipulation of his lumbar spine. Multiple times per day, the boy would twist his body to create tension in his lumbar spine resulting in a popping sound in his lower back. This procedure seemed to create some relief and an increased range of motion. He would perform this self-manipulation as frequently as every 20-30 minutes every day in order to get relief.
Upon going to the chiropractor, the boy was instructed to discontinue the self-manipulation. A chiropractic examination with x-rays was performed to evaluate the boy's condition. The examination did show that several segments of the boy's lower spine was less movable than normal, while the entire area of the spine was more movable than normal. This was probably the result of the self-manipulation.
Chiropractic care was begun at the rate of 3 visits per week for 3 months. Adjustments were given to the areas of the boy's spine that were less movable. The results reported in the study showed that the boy improved significantly from the chiropractic care with a reduction in his back pain. Additionally, there was an increased stability of his spine due to the chiropractic care without the self-manipulation.
In their conclusion the authors wrote that specific chiropractic adjustments are different from self-manipulation in several ways including safety, specificity, and effectiveness. They note that while self-manipulation can produce similar popping sounds in the spine, the effects of a specific, "...chiropractic adjustment cannot be reproduced without the expertise of a skilled practitioner."