Headaches. A great way to ruin a day…

Headache Treatment from Your Knoxville Chiropractor

There are a lot of things that get in the way of having an otherwise perfectly nice day. Perhaps coming home to shreds of pillows strewn across the living room from the pet that was cooped up just a bit too long. Or maybe you feel that slow, creeping tension of what so many know to be the onset of a headache that can be so bad as to leave you bedridden with blinds pulled closed and earplugs trying to block out every hint of a whisper. Knoxville Chiropractor, Dr. Bert Solomon has been treating patients like you with different types of headaches and migraines.

If you’ve never had headaches, it’s tough to relate to the all-around discomfort and brutal inconvenience a migraine can deliver to its often undeserving subject. Migraines can elude even the best doctors and healthcare practitioners as to what can bring them on and how they can be managed. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about migraines as well as some other more common types of headaches and what you can do if you’re ever so unfortunate as to stumble across one.

The Three Main Types of Headaches our Chiropractor in Knoxville Treats

Primary headaches are broken up into 3 main categories: a Migraine (with and without aura), tension headaches, and cervicogenic headaches.


The migraine headache can present itself in many ways and totally varies from person to person. One thing remains the same for all of this though, they are incredibly uncomfortable and often debilitating. A few things that may alert you to the fact that you may be having a migraine:

  • A headache can be proceeded by a strange sensory phenomenon or feeling. This is called an aura. Aura’s can be some abnormal skin sensation, a sound or ringing in the ears, and even as strange as perceiving a unique smell. No lie, a patient that we treated found it strange that she kept smelling Pop Tarts when there were no pop tarts to be found. Shortly following this smell, her headache began to set in. This repeatedly happened to the point that whenever she smelled Pop Tarts she would go lie down knowing what was to come. This is a phenomenal example of an aura… and a great way to grow an aversion to toaster pastries.

  • 85% of patients will state that there is a pulsing or throbbing quality to their headache that may be on one side or both sides of the head.

  • 73% will have associated nausea and vomiting.

  • Approximately 75% of patients will have significant light sensitivity and/or sensitivity to sound.

These types of headaches can be brought on by a number of factors. They are very unique to the individual but there has been some correlation with change in weather, stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and varying types of food. Of course, neck dysfunction by way of joint dysfunction or muscle tightness plays a role as well.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are just as they sound, generated from the cervical spine. Essentially, dysfunction within the joints and surrounding soft tissue of the neck will bring on the headache. People tend to feel some stiffness or pain with moving their neck that will eventually start radiating up to the back of their skull and then around to the front of the head and behind the eyes. Here are some things to look for in a cervicogenic headache:

  • They can be localized to the neck, especially in the area at the base of the skull where it meets the cervical spine.

  • Pain can be provoked or aggravated by specific neck movements or maintaining a certain position for a prolonged time.

  • A headache may be only on one side of the head.

  • It can last anywhere from 3 hours to a week and, though rare, can have some migraine-like symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.

The small group of muscles that connect the two uppermost vertebrae to the base of the skull known as the suboccipital group is pivotal in addressing these headaches. These muscles tend to get riddled with trigger points and fibrotic bundles especially with those that do extensive computer and desk work. Chiropractic adjusting here is one of the best ways to address these types of headaches. Mobilizing these fixed spinal segments and increasing movement in the neck will be very important in the treatment of these headaches. That in combination with extensive soft tissue work to the suboccipital group tends to be the 1-2 knockout punch that will take it out.

Episodic Tension-Type Headaches

These tend to be slightly less severe than the other two discussed but just as annoying. These are very common in folks that tend to hold their stress in their shoulders and traps. This type of headache is described as a pressing or tightening sensation often also felt in their neck and upper back. It tends to be present on both sides and is not aggravated by climbing stairs or any other low-intensity activity. Nausea and vomiting are rarely involved here. Postural dysfunction is one of the main culprits here especially with regard to the upper body. Rounded shoulders and anterior head posture all preload the trapezius and thoracic and cervical erector spinal muscles thus causing them to be extra stretched.

How do Chiropractors Treat Headaches?

Chiropractors use treatment varies from condition to condition with regards to headaches. As formerly mentioned, the latter two types of headaches tend to be largely biomechanical in nature. This means that it is dysfunction of the joints and muscles in the spine and cranial regions that are most at fault for the cause of these headaches. Since this is frequently the case, it is just as frequent that rounds of chiropractic manipulation paired with soft tissue will be productive in decreasing the frequency and intensity of the headaches.

Migraines tend to be different as there are varying mechanisms for their onset. Some general guidelines for staying on top of your migraines and attempting to determine the culprit are as follows:

  • Keep sleep schedule as regular and routine as possible avoiding under, or oversleeping.

  • Keep eating routine constant being sure not to skip any meals. Document any food consumed that is different from normal.

  • Do your best to manage your stress through training and time management techniques.

These three things tend to be difficult to do as Life is inherently unpredictable but adhering to these guidelines will give you a good starting place. If headache frequency or intensity is reduced during this time then we know that one of these variables is involved. From there lightly start playing with them to see if one in particular mostly affects your symptoms. A general trend in the literature has also shown that chiropractic manipulation can affect migraines as well. The waters tend to be muddied as the terminology and headache classification varies from study to study but overall many people have gotten relief from this type of treatment.

Other options to treat headaches (not recommended)

There are many OTC medications out there that claim to be good for headaches and many are very effective at doing so. However, there are some to be aware of that can cause, what we call, “rebound headaches”. The most common culprits here are NSAIDS, Caffeine containing analgesics (such as Excedrin) and ergotamines such as Migranal. Continuously taking these medications for greater than 3 days and then suddenly stopping can cause a headache that is commonly worse than the original and consequently many ER visits. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are rarely seen to have these effects, so when in doubt, go with one of these.

Do you have headaches and migraines?

If you have headaches and migraines, call us today at +1(865) 337-5574 to see how our chiropractors have been treating patients with similar ailments as yours. If you have never seen a chiropractor before, no problem. We will discuss how it works and what else it can help you with.


Souza, T. A. (2016). Differential diagnosis and management for the chiropractor: Protocols and algorithms. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.


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