More than 80% of Victorians are estimated to experience headaches, but many do not realise that the most effective treatment is often chiropractic care.

Headaches are the second most common medical problem around the world and migraines alone are estimated to reduce productivity in Australia by around $1 billion.

To mark National Headache Week (15-21 September), Victorian chiropractors will be seeking to raise awareness of the latest research which demonstrates that a visit to the chiropractor may be more effective than a trip to the pill cabinet in order to reduce headaches.

"Too many Victorians suffer headaches without knowing that effective health care can reduce their pain," a spokesperson for the Victorian branch of the Chiropractors Association of Australia, Dr Helen Alevaki, said.

"National Headache Week is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the recent research which shows chiropractic health care is consistently the most effective way to treat headaches.

"Headaches are a symptom and symptoms are a way for your body letting you know that something is not right. Regular headaches are a sign that you should seek help from a health professional."

Researchers from universities in Spain and Germany this year released research that found that manual therapy of the type practiced by chiropractors to be highly effective in reducing the frequency of headaches. After a short course of manual therapy, three quarters of participants reported that the frequency of their tension type headaches had dropped by 50 per cent.

Recent studies have also found that chiropractic health care can reduce the impact of migraines and cervicogenic headaches (headaches originating in the neck, shoulders and spine). A paper published in the International Headache Society's journal Cephalagia in 2011 found that manual therapy was more effective in dealing with headaches than regular GP care when dealing with headaches.

"In the US, headaches are consistently listed among the top three reasons that people visit chiropractors and we need to ensure that more Victorians are aware that help is at hand to deal with the pain of headaches," Dr Alevaki said.

"Anybody who has ever had a headache knows that their days would be better with fewer of them. These three studies released in the last few years provide clear evidence that chiropractors provide effective relief from neck pain and headaches.

"Chiropractors can assess the causes of headaches and provide appropriate treatment for many kinds of headaches, including chiropractic adjustments and advice on nutrition, posture, ergonomics, exercises and lifestyle."

Tips to reduce the impact of headaches

  • Keep hydrated – insufficient water in your system can lead to headaches
  • Maintain good posture – stress on your neck and spine is a common cause of headaches, particularly after prolonged periods sitting at workstations
  • Stretch
  • Avoid teeth clenching as it can lead to headaches over prolonged periods
  • Visit a chiropractor for assessment and tailored advice