The role of the cervical spine in headache remains controversial. Often confused as tension or common migraine headache, headaches arising from the neck pose a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Practitioners of spinal manipulation have reported very satisfactory results, although the only published randomized controlled trial did not demonstrate that manipulation was significantly helpful. This article reviews the published clinical studies of manipulation in the treatment of tension and migraine headaches. The topic of cervical headaches in general is reviewed and the current model of cervicogenic headache is critiqued. A representative case history is used to illustrate the thesis that the current model of cervicogenic headache may be too restrictive. The role of spinal manipulation as a trial of therapy in individual patients is also discussed. a retrospective diagnosis of cervical headache can often be confirmed by a successful outcome.
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