While anecdotal evidence has support chiropractic treatment of tension headaches for years, until now, there have been no clinical trials that corroborate this reported success. The study that brings scientific support to these claims, "Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy vs. Amitriptyline for the Treatment of Chronic Tension-type Headaches: A Randomized Comparative Clinical Trial", was conducted by Dr. Patrick D. Boline (principal investigator) at Northwestern College of Chiropractic and published in the March/April issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
For the study, a total of 126 patients between the ages of 18 and 70 were divided into two groups that were screened and randomly assigned to receive either chiropractic spinal manipulation or pharmaceutical treatment consisting of amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant commonly known by the brand name Elavil. The spinal manipulation group received short-lever, low-amplitude, high-velocity thrust techniques with moist heat and light massage of the cervicothoracic musculature prior to manipulation. Patients were palpated to determine the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spinal segment to be manipulated with special attention to the upper three cervical segments. The patients in the amitriptyline therapy group received 10 mg daily for the first week, 20 mg daily for the second week, and 30 mg daily thereafter. This dosage was decreased if adverse side effected weren't tolerated by the patient.