Dose response for chiropractic care of chronic cervicogenic headache and associated neck pain: a randomized pilot study

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Nov-Dec;27(9):547-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2004.10.007.


Objective: To acquire information for designing a large clinical trial and determining its feasibility and to make preliminary estimates of the relationship between headache outcomes and the number of visits to a chiropractor.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: Private practice in a college outpatient clinic and in the community.

Subjects: Twenty-four adults with chronic cervicogenic headache.

Methods: Patients were randomly allocated to 1, 3, or 4 visits per week for 3 weeks. All patients received high-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulation. Doctor of Chiropractics could apply up to 2 physical modalities at each visit from among heat and soft tissue therapy. They could also recommend modification of daily activities and rehabilitative exercises. Outcomes included 100-point Modified Von Korff pain and disability scales, and headaches in last 4 weeks.

Results: Only 1 participant was insufficiently compliant with treatment (3 of 12 visits), and 1 patient was lost to follow-up. There was substantial benefit in pain relief for 9 and 12 treatments compared with 3 visits. At 4 weeks, the advantage was 13.8 ( P = .135) for 3 visits per week and 18.7 (P = .041) for 4 visits per week. At the 12-week follow-up, the advantage was 19.4 (P = .035) for 3 visits per week and 18.1 (P = .048) for 4 visits per week.

Conclusion: A large clinical trial on the relationship between pain relief and the number of chiropractic treatments is feasible. Findings give preliminary support for the benefit of larger doses, 9 to 12 treatments, of chiropractic care for the treatment of cervicogenic headache.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / complications
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies