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Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for a Patient with Chronic Migraine Headaches with an Appendix Summarizing an Additional 100 Headache Cases

Erin L. Elster, D.C.

Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ August 3, 2003 ~ Pages 1-10



Objective: To review the effectiveness of chiropractic care using an upper cervical technique in the case of a 35-year-old female who presented with chronic daily tension and migraine headaches, and to summarize, in an Appendix, the examination findings and results for 100 additional chronic headache cases.


Clinical Features: At age 23, the patient, a professional ice skater, sustained a concussion by hitting her head against the ice. Prior to the concussion, no health problems were reported. Following the concussion, tension and migraine headaches ensued. Symptoms persisted over the next twelve years, during which time the patient utilized daily pain medications.


Intervention: During the patient’s initial chiropractic examination, evidence of a subluxation stemming from the upper cervical spine was found through thermographic and radiographic diagnostics. Chiropractic care using an upper cervical technique was administered to correct and stabilize the patient’s upper neck injury. Diagnostics and care were performed in accordance with the guidelines of the International Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association.


Outcome: Evaluation of the patient’s condition occurred by doctor’s observation, patient’s subjective description of symptoms, and thermographic scans. All headaches were absent following three months of care. At the conclusion of her case at one year, all symptoms remained absent.


Conclusion: The onset of the symptoms following the patient’s fall on her head; the immediate reduction in symptoms correlating with the initiation of care; and the complete absence of all symptoms within three months of care; suggest a link between the patient’s concussion, the upper cervical subluxation, and her headaches. Further investigation into upper cervical trauma as a contributing factor to headaches should be pursued.


Key Indexing Terms: upper cervical spine, chiropractic, migraine, cluster, tension, sinus, headache, trauma, thermography

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