Everyone experiences headaches from time to time, but did you know that spine and back problems could be contributing to that throbbing in your head?

At Carolinas Chiropractic, our Charlotte NC chiropractors treat patients who have experienced ongoing headaches, and many who visit our Waxhaw and Pineville offices are surprised to learn just how effective chiropractic care can be at alleviating headaches originating from the spine.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at how the spine is involved in headaches, why headaches originate in the spine, and what you can do about the pain. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the relationship between spine health and headaches, and you’ll be armed with some tools to alleviate the pain.

Understanding Your Anatomy

Before diving deeper into the relationship between headaches and chiropractic care, let’s pause for a moment to get a refresher on the anatomy of the spine. Your spine is made up of several different parts, including vertebrae and discs.

The spine also houses and protects the spinal cord which functions as the information superhighway of the body. Essentially, the spinal cord is the data center through which all electrical signals travel to and from the brain.

Because all of the nerves in your body travel through the spine via the spinal cord, problems with any of the parts of the spine can lead to a disruption in signal flow and processing. The cervical spine, which is in your neck, is particularly important in this scenario as you use your neck all day long. The neck supports the weight of your head, allows you to turn and look around, and aids in overall flexibility.

The Domino Effect

It’s also important to keep in mind that small movements and changes further down your spine can affect your neck and head. Your spinal column isn’t one solid mass. Instead, it flexes, and movements in one area cause changes in another as the vertebral joints of the spine pivot.

When the spine is misaligned, this can create a domino effect on the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and nerves with every movement. In the case of the cervical spine, misalignment can also compress nerves and impede proper blood flow to the brain, and these factors may contribute to the development of headaches.

Cervicogenic Headaches

You probably already know about tension headaches and migraine headaches, but you may not have heard of cervicogenic headaches. These are headaches that stem exclusively from the cervical spine.

Oftentimes, a cervicogenic headache will begin at the base of the back of your skull where it meets your neck. The headache can then spread over the top and sides of your head. Occasionally, these types of headaches will spread to the face.

Muscle Tension and Headaches

Another reason for headaches related to your spine is muscle tension. When muscles around the spine become tense, this pressure can travel along the spine to any number of the surrounding muscles and tissues. At the same time, nerves can get squeezed. As tension rises through your shoulders and neck, it can result in a headache that may be dull but tight.

Referred Pain May Be a Factor

Referred pain is pain that occurs in one part of your body but is felt in another. If you’ve ever had a toothache but felt the pain on the opposite side of your jaw, this was likely referred pain.

You can develop referred pain anywhere nerves are present since pain signals all have to travel the central nervous system through the spinal cord. When it comes to your spine, you may experience pain in one part of your back but end up feeling it in your head.

Referred pain is a complex topic, however, and each case is different. It can be difficult to definitively say that pain in one part of the body is triggered by nerve stimulation in another.

Nerve Irritation and Migraines

For individuals prone to migraines, spine problems can be significant triggers. When the nerves in the cervical spine are irritated due to alignment issues or compression, they can send pain signals that contribute to the onset of migraines.

This doesn’t mean that the spine is the direct cause of migraines as migraines are complex neurological conditions that aren’t fully understood, but muscle tension and nerve compression can contribute to the onset of migraine headaches in people who are prone to them.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Reduce Spine-Related Headaches

A chiropractic adjustment is an effective way to treat headaches caused by spine problems and alignment concerns. At Carolinas Chiropractic, our caring team of chiropractic physicians works individually with each patient to develop personalized treatment plans to alleviate tension, reduce nerve irritation, and enhance spine function.

Chiropractic adjustments are non-invasive techniques that target specific areas of the spine, promoting optimal alignment and mobility. Our patients often report a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of headaches after undergoing care, and our team can develop a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.

Your chiropractic physician can also provide valuable guidance on posture, lifestyle modifications, and at-home exercises to support spine health and prevent pain down the road.

Contact Carolinas Chiropractic to Get Relief From Back Pain and Headaches

Chiropractic care offers a holistic and drug-free approach to relieving headaches by restoring balance to the spine and supporting overall well-being. To learn more about headache relief through chiropractic care in the Charlotte region, contact Carolinas Chiropractic in Waxhaw or Pineville by calling (704) 243-1010, or use our contact form to reach our chiropractic specialists on the web.

Disclaimer: The above is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or be used to make a diagnosis. Only your doctor can provide medical guidance for your unique healthcare concerns. Please consult with your doctor for answers to specific questions or concerns about your health.


  1. “Anatomy of the Spine and Peripheral Nervous System”, American Association of Neurological Surgeons –

https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Anatomy-of- the-Spine-and-Peripheral-Nervous-System

  1. “Cervicogenic Headache”, National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507862/
  2. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache”, National Library of Medicine – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21640251/

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