Chronic tension headache sufferers should consider chiropractic treatment as a long-term solution to their ailment without the side effects of drugs. A study funded by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research compared six weeks of spinal manipulative treatment to six weeks of medical treatment with amitriptyline, an antidepressant used to control severe headache pain.
The chiropractic patients experienced fewer side effects, and the positive effects of chiropractic proved to be longer term, with patients reporting continued relief after the study was completed.
While anecdotal evidence has supported chiropractic treatment of tension headaches for years, this study brings scientific support to these claims. The study was a randomized comparative clinical trial with 126 patients between the ages of 18 and 70, randomly divided into two groups. During the six weeks that both groups received treatment, both reported similar improvements: however, four weeks after the end of the clinical trial, the superiority of chiropractic treatment was evident. In the group receiving spinal manipulation:
• 42% showed a reduction in headache frequency,
• 32% showed a reduction in headache intensity,
• 30% reported a decrease in over-the counter medication usage, and • 16% showed improvement in functional health status.
The group receiving amitriptyline reverted to the levels recorded at the beginning of the study. The groups also differed greatly in their reporting of side effects. While 82.1% of the patients who received medical treatment suffered from drowsiness, dry mouth and weight gain, only 4.3% of the spinal manipulation group reported side effects consisting of neck soreness and stiffness.
At last, with the results of this study, the claims of thousands of chiropractic patients who have enjoyed relief from pain without drugs will have to be taken seriously by the medical community. This study is further proof that Chiropractic is a viable and scientific alternative for relief from common tension headaches.