Headaches & Migraines

What are headaches?

Almost everyone experiences a headache occasionally. It is a prevalent physical complaint and relates to pain experienced in any part of your head. We see it frequently at Body Sense Physiotherapy, and it can either present as the main problem or be part of other presenting symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, jaw pain, dizziness, and so forth.

Physiotherapy can be helpful with certain types of headaches. A thorough assessment can determine what the possibility of your headache is. It might also show whether the neck, thoracic spine, or jaw are contributing factors. Furthermore, finding out how much these areas contribute to the headache can help modify the quality, frequency, and intensity of the headache.

What kind of headache symptoms can one have?

  • There are many kinds of headaches.
  • Different types of headaches can vary significantly with regards to cause, quality, duration and intensity.
  • Headaches can be described as an aching, throbbing, pressure, tension in the head or even pain behind the eyes.
  • Headaches can be minor, but sometimes they can be very distressing for people when they persist and affect their quality of life.

First of all, rule out headaches that are related to serious medical conditions:
It is essential to know that when you are experiencing a headache described as the worst you have ever had, you need to seek medical attention immediately to rule out any serious conditions. Medical attention is also advisable when your headache is ongoing or associated with the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Rash
  • Slurred speech
  • Any fever of 38°C or higher
  • If you experience paralysis in any part of your body
  • If you experience visual loss

Which type of headaches can benefit physiotherapy treatment?

  • There are many types of headaches, and physiotherapy can be helpful for certain types of headaches which falls into a category called primary headaches.
  • This headache means that the pain in your head is the condition and not triggered by something else in your body, such as illness or allergies.

At Body Sense physiotherapy, we assess you to find out what type of headache you have :

Some of the most common headaches are cervicogenic headaches, migraines, tension-type headaches and sometimes a mix of different types of headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches

What causes this type of headache?

  • This headache can occur due to a neck or jaw problem, poor posture, fatigue, or stress.
  • Various structures in the upper cervical spine can be responsible for causing this type of headache, such as your neck joints, tight muscles and/or sensitized nerves.
  • Issues in the neck, jaw or head, for example, a whiplash injury or arthritis, can cause increased tension in the neck muscles where it attaches to the head and, in turn, increases pressure on the nerves to the face and head.
  • Sustained, repetitive movements and poor posture can lead the neck muscles to become overworked, which can cause a headache.

What are the symptoms of cervicogenic headaches?

  • These headaches are usually one side of the neck and head
  • Muscle spasm and tightness begin at the back of the head
  • This tightness can spread over the head and into either behind or above the eyes.
  • Cervicogenic headaches are affected by neck movement, such as turning to left or right, looking up or down.
  • These headaches can worsen with sustained positions such as sitting at a desk.
  • It can ease with rest.
  • Usually, when you push into the affected side of the neck, it will be painful and sensitive.

Tension-type headaches(TTH)

What causes TTH?

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Dehydration
  • Not eating regularly
  • Lack of physical activity

What are the symptoms of TTH?

  • The intensity of this headache
  • is usually mild to moderate
  • Dull, aching sensation on both sides of the head.
  • With his headache, you might also feel tenderness around your neck, forehead, scalp, and shoulder girdle muscles.
  • Tension-type headaches can be triggered by stress.
  • Unlike cervicogenic headaches, this headache is usually not aggravated by neck movement or exercise.
  • This type of headache can last anything from 30 minutes to 7 days.


What causes/triggers migraines?

  • Science still doesn’t have an exact answer for this
  • There a variety of theories, including genetic predisposition, irregularities in the brain’s blood vessel system, or vascular system
  • An underlying central nervous system disorder

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

  • It is one-sided
  • Intensity is moderate to severe
  • It is a throbbing headache
  • It can last for from 4- 72 hours
  • Migraine often has associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, light or sound sensitivity, dizziness, difficulty speaking, tingling of hands or feet, and a feeling of incoordination.
  • People that have a migraine can have them with or without an aura
  • An aura refers to sensations that a person experiences just before the onset of a migraine headache. The auras usually occur consistently with every headache 20-30 minutes before the migraine.

Mixed type headaches

For example, when there is a component of migraine and cervicogenic headache, or a tension-type headache mixed

What can physiotherapy do for headaches?

  • Your Body Sense physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment, including a review of your health history followed by a comprehensive physical examination.
  • As mentioned earlier, this assessment will help determine what is causing and contributing to your headache and whether physiotherapy will be helpful for you.
  • If from examination, it appears that your headache is related predominantly to muscle and/or joints. In that case, your physiotherapist will design a treatment plan and provide you with gentle manual therapy and specific neck exercises

Physiotherapy treatment will address the contributing factors to your headaches, and it can involve the following:

  • Explaining findings of the assessment and help you make sense of your headache
  • Advice regarding lifestyle changes such as physical activity, sleep, triggers for headaches
  • Improve neck mobility either with a combination of manual therapy and exercises.
  • Address any muscle weakness in the neck, upper and/or shoulder girdle that might be contributing to the headaches. Increased strength will help to improve posture and make it easier for you to sit or stand for prolonged periods without aggravating your headache.
  • Provide you with advice on modifications of some daily activities, workstations, sleeping positions and exercise to assist with recovery
  • Your physiotherapist can help to reduce the intensity of migraines associated with neck and jaw pain and provide preventative strategies.
  • Stress management strategies such as relaxation training

The safety of our patients, staff and community is our priority.

Please do not attend the clinic, if you are planning or have booked an appointment at Body Sense Physiotherapy and:

Please contact us by phone to allow us to assist with alternative appointment options. Body Sense Physiotherapy follows WA Health Department COVID-19 guidelines and these are subject to change.