Most of us have experienced headaches at some point. Maybe you experience them occasionally or maybe they are more frequent and debilitating. There can be a host of causes. The good news is many of these can be focused on to find relief.

Usually, people reach for medication for prevention or treatment. Though this is often a successful option, it is generally temporary and can lead to the problematic side effects that can be related to frequent drug use. Treating the underlying factors that may be present can often be a longer term and more effective option.

One such option is physiotherapy that zones in on what may be causing the headaches. Our physiotherapists can assess your situation, identify possible contributing factors, and develop a treatment plan to help alleviate your headaches.

Types Of Headaches

Headaches differ from person to person in terms of symptoms, causes, and frequency.

Tension Headaches

This type of headache is generally the most common for people to experience. They typically involve a tightness around the head and sometimes extends to the muscles in the jaw and neck.

Physical or emotional reasons can be behind tension headaches.

Neck-related Headaches (cervicogenic)

Underlying issues in the neck can frequently lead to headaches because the region between the back of the head and the upper neck involves pain-sensitives structures that can become irritated or inflamed, or degenerate. This may affect different areas of the head and can change location throughout the headache or on each occasion.

The top of the spine (cervical) and the associated nerves, joints, ligaments, and muscles can be affected. If these become tight, stiff, injured, or are pressing on other structures, pain can transfer into the head.

Physiotherapists can focus on relieving the issues within these structures.

A picture of the spine where it attaches to the head. The spine is red and a red arrow points towards the head.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches can involve intense pain that develops around, behind or in the eye region. They can impact day to day activities significantly and wake you up at night.

The cause is not currently well understood. A possible reason is that the hypothalamus may be involved. This is what is often referred to as the biological clock.


A migraine involves throbbing pain that is usually kept to one side of the head. These are often debilitating and can combine with other symptoms, such as light sensitivity and vomiting. Auras, such as visual, auditory, sensory, and verbal disturbances, are associated with many people’s migraines, typically commencing before the pain.

The reason migraines occur is not clear but environmental and genetic factors may contribute. The brainstem and the trigeminal nerve can be affected, or brain chemicals, such as serotonin, can become imbalanced. Hormone changes can also be a factor during women’s menstruation cycle.

Environmental factors can include:

  • Sensory stimuli.
  • Events that cause emotional reactions.
  • Certain foods and drinks, such as chocolate, apples, and red wine.
  • Poor sleep

Medical Conditions

Headaches can also be because of underlying issues such as infections, illnesses, or trauma. These could be serious and early detection can be pertinent, so it can be important to visit a doctor.

Physiotherapy Treatment Options For Headaches

Our physiotherapists  can perform a thorough examination and identify potential causes to diagnose, manage, and prevent headaches. We can also collaborate with your doctor to create a well-rounded treatment plan.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Massage, trigger point techniques, and manipulation. These may be particularly relevant for issues with the soft tissue and joints in the surrounding structures.
  • Acupuncture and dry needling/IMS.
  • Exercises and stretches.
  • Posture correction and education.
  • Advice on lifestyle habits and routines such as exercise, sleep quality and routine, and relaxation.

Treatment can be provided even on days when headaches are not present to address underlying issues and prevent future headaches.

A picture with a physiotherapist working on an older man's shoulder and another physiotherapist helping a lady do exercises while sitting on an exercise ball.

Find Headache Relief With Physiotherapy

Headaches can lead to many issues, such as inability to work, sleep and be active, and mood changes. Subsequently, it can be crucial to address them, particularly if they are severe or are a regular occurrence. Seeing your doctor to rule out any sinister factors should be considered if your headaches are frequent or severe. Once these possibilities have been investigated, physiotherapy can be highly beneficial.

Contact us to make an appointment so that we can evaluate your symptoms and background and support you with an appropriate treatment plan.


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