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Cure Your Headaches with Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic

Chiropractic manipulation has been demonstrated to be effective as an alternative or in addition to medication for a patient who is suffering from headaches. The special work of Atlas Orthogonal (AO) Chiropractic can offer even greater benefit, no manipulations, rather adjustments.

Chiropractic manipulation has been demonstrated to be effective as an alternative or in addition to medication for a patient who is suffering from headaches. The special work of Atlas Orthogonal (AO) Chiropractic can offer even greater benefit, no manipulations, rather adjustments.


Chiropractic's ability to correct biomechanical dysfunction may decrease the factors that contribute to headache pain. Many headaches are considered to be neck related and are referred to as cervicogenic headaches. These headaches are musculoskeletal in nature and are similar to a tension headache, which may also relate to migraines.

An article from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics titled “The Effectiveness of Chiropractic Manipulation in the Treatment of Headache,” discusses research pertaining to chiropractic care. This includes how chiropractic adjustments are equivalent to or even more effective than medications and also have the benefit of greater durability or length of positive effects of the treatment.

In studies there is less risk to receiving chiropractic adjustments than medical treatments. Another article from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics entitled “A Risk Assessment of Cervical Manipulation vs. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) for the Treatment of Neck Pain” concluded that the best treatment for neck pain is chiropractic manipulation, which is safer than NSAID use. Additionally, latest research indicates that nine percent of men and 12 percent of women in the United States experience at least one to two headaches per month, with four percent of the population suffering headaches that are more frequent.

Two-thirds of all adult men and greater than 80 percent of women in developed countries suffer from chronic headaches, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Their effects are just as destructive to developing nations too, mostly because headaches are not generally look at as a disease. WHO estimates about half of the people who have headaches never receive any treatment for them either.

People who suffer from chronic daily headaches amount to a staggering four to five percent of the world's population, surpassing the rate of many other illnesses. Experts believe that the relationship of headache sufferers to those suffering from disabilities is about the same.

Headaches are so common that Americans pay more than one billion every year to get relief from migraines. Medical expenses plus lost work time and lower productivity accounts for an estimated $50 billion in losses for American businesses. Just as troubling: The pain associated with migraines can be so severe that some patients will actually consider suicide as a reasonable alternative.

Approximately 95 percent of all headaches are classified as tension, migraine, or cervicogenic (starting in the neck). Symptoms include tightness and a stiff feeling in the neck with moderate pain on one or both sides of the head. Only a very small fraction of all headaches is of the more dangerous variety and these can be ruled out for further diagnostic tests and referral to appropriate professionals as necessary.

Doctors of chiropractic help thousands of individuals successfully reduce the symptoms of headaches by using safe and effective treatment protocols. Chiropractic has such a huge success rate in the treatment of headaches because most headaches are soft tissue or nerve related.  A spinal adjustment can help alleviate the pressure put on muscles, nerves and blood vessels, which will allow better function and diminish the symptoms of a headache.

Many people have concerns about chiropractic manipulation, especially when it comes to neck adjusting.  The reasons I have heard are primarily fear based. Many people have concerns about chiropractic manipulation, especially when it comes to neck adjusting. The reasons I have heard are primarily fear based. Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic is a different kind of chiropractic treatment and is performed without manipulation of the head or neck. The “snap,” “crack,” or “pop” sound usually associated with chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation is not necessary to move a vertebra, especially the atlas or upper cervical joint complex.

Chiropractors in general are not taught aggressive, forceful techniques; the kind that can injure tissues or vessels. We are taught to use speed and finesse rather than force.  Problems can arise if the physician performing the procedure compensates for slow speed by increasing force in the delivery of the manipulation.  I say this because chiropractors provide by far the greatest number of “manipulations” to the spine of any other profession, but other professionals are also performing “manipulations” and “mobilizations.” Note that I prefer to differentiate the more precise and fine tuned “adjustment” from the more forceful and less precise term, ”adjustment.”

Chiropractic doctors have had all the same basic training as any other primary care physician. The difference between DC’s and MD’s lies in our treatment protocols. Chiropractors do not prescribe side-effecting medications or surgeries, but we do use a system of adjusting that safely and effectively moves the vertebrae into the correct position for optimal nerve flow and function.

We also express the need to seek assistance in emergencies, if all other conservative options have been explored. The first choices should have no potential adverse long term consequences. It is suggested to try AO Chiropractic, followed by other less invasive measures.  Drugs should be considered next to last, and major surgery should be an absolute last choice.

Most people who have had an AO adjustment report feeling what they describe as either a puff of force or nothing at all. Instead, they hear a small tap and later sensing the tightness and soreness leaving the body. Some describe the experience as initially “underwhelming.” Others report a wave-like sensation rushing through the body, especially the head and neck as things return to normal. The doctor usually sees substantial changes between his objective findings from before the adjustment and those he finds afterwards.

AO Chiropractic care has a relaxing effect on patients and can be a great tool in the prevention of injuries, headaches and many other disorders.

Dr. George Ellwanger is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and a Board Certified Atlas Orthogonist (BCAO) since 1994 with recertification by Sherman College in 2001.  He is also the director of Cary Family Chiropractic.

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