Manage cervicogenic headache with spinal manipulation + dry needling, says new systematic review…

A female chiropractor treating a businessman's neck.

We see patients with cervicogenic headaches all the time and generally, chiropractic care is very helpful for these patients. The literature however, has taken some time to catch up to our clinical observations, partly because headache is generally difficult to study (lots of variability!).

Previous systematic reviews have reported that some conservative, chiropractic/physical therapy techniques, such as manual therapy (SMT/mobs) and exercise, are effective in the treatment of CGH and have been recommended in practice guidelines. However, no systematic reviews have included studies that were published less than 5 years ago, and none have performed a network meta-analysis (NMA). A NMA can determine which interventions are most effective by comparing treatments that were not directly compared to each other in the included studies and by comparing more than 2 interventions at once.

The purpose of the current review was to assess the efficacy of conservative interventions on the intensity, frequency, and duration of headache pain, and on CGH patients’ quality of life.

As you’ll see, the authors of this latest systematic review and network meta-analysis were unable to give conclusive recommendations because of the included studies’ low certainty of evidence. Nevertheless, they reported that spinal joint manipulation in combination with dry needling was the most effective intervention to reduce short-term headache intensity and frequency.

Related E-Seminar:
Check out “Chiropractic Check Up from the Neck Up”, which includes sections on headache management, cervicogenic dizziness, concussion and stroke and neck manipulation! Get it HERE.

RESEARCH REVIEW: Interventions for Managing Cervicogenic Headache

This paper was published in Physical Therapy (2023)

You can now purchase single Research Reviews for only $4.99 – Get access to this review here

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