Firstly, knowing that physiotherapy can help headaches is a good start.

With any headache a full physiotherapy assessment is required to provide an accurate diagnosis for the correct course of treatment.

Headache is a pain in any region of the head. Headaches can range from an ache, throbbing pain or sharp pain that is on one side of the head or both. It can be isolated in one area or radiate to a large vague area around the head. While there are many types of headaches, tension type headaches, migraines and cervicogenic headaches are the most common. Below we will provide some insights into these headaches.

Tension type headache

Tension type headaches are the most common type headaches (commonly known as stress headaches). These headaches are more common in females than males (3:2 ratio). They are a dull pain, tightness or pressure around the forehead or the back of your head – it is commonly described like a clamp squeezing the skull.

Common symptoms

Tension headaches do not have nerve symptoms such as weakness or blurred vision. They do not have sensitivity to light or noise, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.

Causes of tension type headache

Physiotherapy treatment for tension headaches

Physiotherapy and ongoing posture correction helps to prevent chronic problems. If you have excruciating pain in the head, or if it is your first or worst headache, you should consult your GP or attend the nearest emergency department to rule out any serious condition.

Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are a referred pain arising from irritation to the neck. They are caused by problems with the nerves, bones or muscles in neck. This type pf headache affects males and females similarly (1:1 ration).

Cervicogenic headaches can be aggravated and relieved by certain neck movements. The headache presents as a steady ache or dull feeling with varying pain intensity. Usually mild to moderate and always accompanied by neck pain that moves to the head or face.

Common symptoms

Causes of cervicogenic headache

Physiotherapy treatment strategies for cervicogenic headaches

Migraine headache

A migraine can be episodic or a chronic headache. It is thought to be caused by an overactive nerves cell that cause sensations to be felt over the head and face. As a result of this overactivity, the body responds by releasing various chemicals causing increased swelling/inflammation leading to pain.

Prevalence of migraine

Common symptoms of migraine

There are many different types of migraine with varying symptoms and severity. Migraines may present either with or without aura. The headache can last between 4 hours and 3 days and have a mixture of symptoms.

Symptoms include:

Often feel vaguely unwell for a day or two beforehand (prodromal) with symptoms including:

Physiotherapy treatment for migraine headaches

The use of medicines to manage acute pain and symptoms is effective. In addition, prophylaxis is often needed to prevent recurrence and chronic migraine is often needed. Physiotherapy treatment can help in the ongoing prevention of migraines.