Spinal manipulative therapy in the management of cervicogenic headache

Headache. 2005 Oct;45(9):1260-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2005.00253_1.x.


Patients suffering from cervicogenic headache (CeH) are commonly treated with spinal manipulative therapy. We have analyzed the quality and the outcomes of published, randomized, controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in CeH. Among 121 relevant articles, only two met all the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality scores were 8/10 and 7/10 points. Only one of the trials made use of a headache diary. Both the trials reported positive (+) results on headache intensity, headache duration, and medication intake, so that spinal manipulative therapy obtained strong evidence of effectiveness (level 1) with regard to these outcomes. Conversely, spinal manipulation obtained no more than limited evidence (level 3) in reducing headache frequency, as it was analyzed only in one study with positive (+) results. A greater number of well-designed, randomized, controlled trials are required to confirm or refute the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in the management of CeH.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic*
  • Post-Traumatic Headache / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome