Headache Treatment

A headache can be very distressing, disabling and have an impact on many aspects of a person’s life. It can affect concentration, work, as well as engagement in social and physical activity.

People with a headache can also have other symptoms such as:

There are many types of headaches, such as migraine, tension headaches, medication-induced headaches, cluster headache and cervicogenic headaches. A headache may also be a combination of the above headache types known as a mixed headache.

Whilst there are many different causes for headaches, in most cases, the origin is not serious. People can suffer from recurrent headaches over many years. Concussion, a fall, a sporting injury, a motor vehicle accident or feeling tired and stressed can cause headaches.

In rare cases, a headache can be due to a serious medical reason. This will need immediate medical assessment and investigation.

Physiotherapists can assess headache presentations and determine when physiotherapy treatment can be helpful. Physiotherapy is usually helpful for cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches and mixed headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches come from structures of the upper neck (joints, nerves and muscles). This kind of headache is usually associated with pain on one side of the neck referring to the head. It is also related to stiffness with head/neck movements, such as turning and moving the head to look up and down. In this type of headache, there is usually tenderness of the upper neck to touch.

Factors that can lead to a cervicogenic headache:

Tension headaches arise from the muscles and nerves of the neck and head. This kind of headache is more diffuse and is often described as a tight band around the head and base of neck. It is usually associated with tenderness of the scalp, neck and shoulder muscles.

Factors that can lead to tension headaches are:

The above factors can add to sensitivity and tension of the muscles of the head and neck.

Chronic headache is when the headache lasts for more than three months.

Factors that lead to chronic headaches are:

Myths about headaches:

Facts about headaches:

Exercise can be beneficial for sufferers of migraines or headaches

Recent studies have highlighted the beneficial effects of exercise for headache and migraine sufferers.

Two recently published scientific papers concluded that aerobic exercise, in other words exercise that makes you huff and puff:

The type of exercise that was looked at included walking, jogging, cycling, and cross training for 30 to 45 minutes a few times a week.

Importantly, this aerobic exercise needs to be a regular part of life to have its beneficial effects.

In addition to aerobic exercise, tension-type headaches and cervicogenic headaches (those originating in the neck) have been shown to benefit from low load endurance and high load exercise that specifically targets the neck.

Exercise is therefore recommended as a part of treatment for migraine, tension-type headache and cervicogenic headache.

Physiotherapy treatment of headache:

There is now strong evidence that physiotherapy treatments can help the headaches mentioned previously.


At your first visit to Body Logic Physiotherapy we take the time to listen to your story. This helps us to understand all the factors linked to your headaches. We can then determine what type of headache you have.

We want to understand how your headaches are impacting your life. We explore aspects of your home and work life that may affect your headaches. Aspects such as your sleep, stress levels, activity levels and your lifestyle. We look at whether worries or mood is playing a role in your headache. We do this as there is strong evidence that these factors can contribute to headaches.

We ask you about your general health. We find out about medications you take for your headache or any other conditions you may have.

We ask other specific questions that help us determine if there maybe a serious causes for your headache.

Following this we will conduct a comprehensive examination. During the examination we look at the following:


The key is to establish what kind of headache you have and then identify the common triggers for them. If you have a cervicogenic or tension headache, physiotherapy can help you.

At Body Logic Physiotherapy we will identify the factors linked to your headache. Together we set a plan for you to manage them. The plan can involve several strategies and treatment such as:

This can take between 3-8 sessions over a period of weeks. The amount of treatment you need will vary. It will depend on how long you have had your headaches, what the cause is and how severe and disabling they are.

We know that headaches can recur and so sometimes there is a need for extra sessions if this occurs after treatment has ended.

Sometimes it is helpful to involve other health care providers in managing your care.