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Treatment for Headaches: T.E.N.S vs. Manipulation

Posted Oct 01 2008 5:07pm

Cervicogenic_headaches A recent study compared two treatments for cervicogenic headaches: the use of T.E.N.S units versus manipulation of the cervical spine. This study compared alternative treatment for patients suffering from cervicogenic headaches and headaches related/caused by the neck. The participants in the study had a history of neck injury such as whiplash or trauma to the head. Patients were given either given electric stimulation ( T.E.N.S ) treatment or manipulations. Patients had on average 20 visits, over 40 days. Following the patient’s treatments, the scores were compared.

It was found that the group that received manipulations had significant decrease in their headache pain score, frequency of headaches, and the duration of headaches. There was a 94.5% response in the manipulation group, compared to only 64.5% of the Tens group. A Cervicogenic headache often coincides with neck pain and stiff neck. The pain from a cervicogenic headache often radiates from the neck or occipital region. Pain of cervical spine origin, however, can sometimes be felt in the front of the head. Loss of sensation over the occipital area, often on one side can accompany occipital neuralgia. Neck muscles are tender, frequently in spasm, and their movement can aggravate the pain.

This study shows that patients will respond favorably to chiropractic manipulation. In addition with manipulation, there are no side effects when compared to other treatments such as medication. As can be seen in the study above manipulation for the cervical spine is more effective than using a tens unit which works by blocking the pain signal.

Study: (Li C, Xiu-ling Z, hong D, Yue-qiang T, Hong-sheng X. Comparative study of effects of manipulation treatment and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation [tens] on patients with cervicogenic headache JChin Integrat Med 2007;5(4) DOI:10.3736/jcm20070408

Additional Resources: Tens Unit for Muscle Spasm: Portable Tens Unit for Muscle Spasm Article: How does a T.E.N.S unit work for muscle spasm

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