Cervicogenic Headache | Is Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy an Efficient Treatment Option in Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic Headache research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

This study will highlight and validate chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (CSMT) for cervicogenic headache (CEH). If the method proves to be effective, it will provide a new non-pharmacological treatment option for CEH. This is especially important since pharmacological management has minor effect in CEH, and alternative treatment options are warranted. The applied methodology of the study will aim towards the highest possible research standards. This international study is a collaboration between Akershus University Hospital, Innlandet Hospital and University of Oslo (UiO), Norway and Macquarie University, Australia. The multidisciplinary professional backgrounds are physiotherapy, chiropractic and medicine. By increasing the methodological quality of the investigators research to a very high level, the investigators see the method to work as a guide to increase the quality of chiropractic research in the future, as previous randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of CEH used methodology showing room for improvement. Study hypothesis: CSMT using the Gonstead method reduces days with CEH by at least 25% as compared to placebo (sham manipulation, i.e. broad non-specific contact, non-directional, low velocity and low amplitude) and no intervention (control group).

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: - CEH according to at least three major criteria of the CHISG not including occipital nerve blockage - Age 18-70 years Exclusion Criteria: - Contraindication to spinal manipulation - Chiropractic treatment within the last 12 months - Radiculopathy - Depression - Pregnancy - Participants whom become pregnant during the migraine trial will also be excluded from analysis from the time of pregnancy - Participants who change their prophylactic medical regime for headaches will be excluded in the analysis from the time of change

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Cervicogenic Headache

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Other:ChiropracticChiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy

Other:Sham ChiropracticSham manipulation

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Sham ChiropracticSham Chiropractic manipulative therapy.

Control groupNo intervention: Control group.

Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative TherapyActive intervention: Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy

Study Status


Start Date: September 2012

Completed Date: May 2014

Phase: N/A

Type: Interventional


Primary Outcome: Number of headache days

Secondary Outcome: Headache duration

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: Michael B Russell, Professor

Lead Sponsor: University Hospital, Akershus

Collaborator: Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation

More information:

Chaibi A, Russell MB. Manual therapies for cervicogenic headache: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2012 Jul;13(5):351-9. doi: 10.1007/s10194-012-0436-7. Epub 2012 Mar 30. Review.

Chaibi A, Knackstedt H, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. BMC Res Notes. 2017 Jul 24;10(1):310. doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4.

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