How Chiropractic Care Addresses Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are severe, debilitating pain that occurs only on one side of the head. These headaches typically happen in a regular pattern over weeks or months.

When your body experiences symptoms like cluster headaches, it tells you it isn’t functioning optimally. Chiropractic care can facilitate optimal functioning through improved brain-body communication via spinal adjustments.


While tension headaches and migraines are common, only a small percentage of people suffer from the incredibly painful, debilitating cluster headache. Unlike these two types, cluster headaches don’t respond to the usual painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. Instead, they require a more holistic approach.

Headache management with chiropractic care provides natural, drug-free pain relief for cluster headaches. These headaches are typically rooted in spinal subluxations or misalignments. In particular, the upper cervical spine, including the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae, is a common source of these painful headaches. The delicate nerves that run through these bones can be pinched or compressed when the spine is misaligned.

Using the Blair upper cervical technique, which specifically addresses the health and alignment of these bones, a chiropractor can relieve this pressure and ensure that nerve signals are flowing properly from your brain to your spinal cord. This can reduce the frequency of these debilitating headaches and ease the accompanying symptoms, such as sensitivity to sound and light.

Soft Tissue Therapy

While the exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, it’s thought that spinal misalignment negatively affects brain stem function. Adjustments in the cervical spine may relieve tension, improve circulation, and decrease pressure on nerves and blood vessels that run through the neck and upper back.

These adjustments can help to reduce pain, allowing patients to enjoy their lives better. They also provide relief from the underlying cause of the problem, inflammation in the upper spinal region.

Unlike migraines, which are known to be caused by a variety of triggers, cluster headaches tend to have a definite pattern. Many people experience them in conjunction with drooping eyelids, nasal congestion, and sensitivity to sound and light.

During a soft tissue therapy session, the chiropractor can massage and manipulate the muscles in the area to release the tightness contributing to headaches. In addition, they can also recommend specific exercises and stretches that can increase neck flexibility and promote good posture.

Nutritional Counseling

Most people experience headache pain at some point, but not all headaches are the same. Tension and migraine headaches are common, but a smaller percentage of individuals struggle with more severe pain that can be debilitating. Cluster headaches, sometimes called “suicide headaches,” are characterized by intense pain that is typically concentrated around one side of the head and the eye area. They usually occur in cycles of several daily headaches for weeks or months, then remit.

Many people who suffer from cluster headaches report a significant decrease in the frequency and severity of their symptoms through chiropractic care. The Blair upper cervical technique utilized by chiropractors helps reduce the severity of these headaches by restoring proper bone function in the upper neck region. This improves brain-body communication and allows your body to heal more efficiently. This is an alternative to the use of prescription medications that often have undesirable side effects.

Lifestyle Changes

While migraine headaches and tension-type headaches are fairly common, a small percentage of people experience another type of excruciating head pain known as cluster headaches. Sometimes called “suicide headaches,” these debilitating symptoms occur in a pattern of recurrent episodes of pain that can last for hours or even weeks before going into remission.

The most distinguishing feature of this condition is that the pain is not centered on a specific part of the face or head. Instead, the discomfort typically starts behind or around one eye. It is accompanied by other symptoms such as a swollen or droopy eyelid, redness of the affected eye, a stuffy nose, and sweating.