Most of us have experienced a headache at some point in our lives and the symptoms can range from annoying to debilitating. The good news is that physiotherapy can help, even if you have suffered with headaches for years.  Recent research suggests that a significant number of headaches are caused by musculoskeletal dysfunction in the neck.  As a result, by performing a detailed assessment of your cervical spine, your physiotherapist can determine the level at which the dysfunction is occurring and develop a treatment plan to correct that dysfunction.  Treatment may include mobilisation, soft tissue massage, dry needling and postural exercises.


However, it is very important to understand that some headaches can be suggestive of serious illness. If you suddenly start experiencing headaches, when you haven’t previously, or following lumbar puncture or starting new medication then please see your doctor immediately.  If your headache is associated with symptoms such as blurred vision, dizziness, difficulty breathing or swallowing then please see your doctor immediately.


There are many classifications of headaches and a large number of triggers.  Below are some of the more common headache types.


Menstrual Headaches

In addition to musculoskeletal therapy, menstrual headaches can sometimes respond to contraceptive or hormone medication, as they are thought to be associated with a change in blood vessel diameter due to a reduction in the hormone oestrogen prior to menstruation.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are more common in women than men and can be caused by stress, long work hours, depression and eye strain.  They can be constant or intermittent and often occur at the end of the week or month. Clenching your jaw; neck and shoulder posture can also contribute to tension headache symptoms.

Migraines (Classic)

Classic migraines occur more frequently in women and are usually preceded by an aura.  Symptoms of an aura include a halo around objects, specks in the field of vision, loss of a portion of the visual field, watering eyes and ringing in the ears.  Classic migraine suffers can also become nauseated and vomit as well as being sensitive to light. A large change in mood – either positive or negative – will often precede a classic migraine the day or night prior to the headache. Pain is often felt at the front and/or back of the head and usually isolated to one side.

Migraines (Common)

Common migraines are more difficult to diagnose as they often occur without warning and don’t have all of the symptoms associated with classic migraines. However, common migraine suffers will often experience sensitivity to light and sound and can feel washed out after an episode. Common migraines can be trigged by any number of factors including Tyramines – found in tomatoes, chocolate, red wine, orange juice, aged cheese – nitrites – found in preserved meats – alcohol, MSG and too little or too much sleep. Where possible, it is good to identify and reduce the trigger(s).


For advice about the physiotherapy management of headaches in Mt Hawthorn, Leederville, West Leederville, Joondanna, Coolbinia, Yokine, Glendalough and Osborne Park or to make an appointment contact Leederville Physiotherapy today.