Three main categories (International Headache Society, 2013) :

Primary Headache

Tension Headache: “tightening” around head often caused by stress, fatigue and poor posture

Cluster Headache: Unilateral headaches occuring in reoccuring blocks (clusters) for a period of time. Thought to be seasonal or allergy related

Migraine Headache: severe headache caused by changes in the brain. Often accompanied by other symptoms incl. Light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting and vertigo

Secondary Headache

Due to underlying structural or infectious disease in the head or neck

Eg. dental pain, sinus pathology, cervicogenic, encephalitis, meningitis, post trauma (concussion), substance abuse

Cranial Neuralgia, Facial Pain and Other Headaches

Symptoms arising from one of the 12 cranial nerves that carry sensory information to the head and face. A common example is trigeminal neuralgia that results in severe facial pain

It is important to understand the type of headache you may be experiencing as the treatment for each can vary significantly. An accurate diagnosis of the type and cause can result in a faster reduction in symptoms and more effective management.

Physiotherapy can be helpful in treating certain types of headaches. Those that arise from a musculoskeletal cause such as tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches can be directly managed with physiotherapy. Those that are related to muscle tension and stress can be indirectly helped with physiotherapy treatment. 


Poor posture is known to commonly cause headaches especially in jobs that require a lot of desk work or lifting. In cervicogenic and tension headaches strengthening of the upper back and neck muscles that support and control posture can ease tension and resolve symptoms. Cervicogenic headaches specifically originate from the joints in the neck at the base of the head, therefore treatment to this area can reduce symptoms. Physiotherapists can also offer advice on sitting posture, easy stretches at work and ways to organise your desk to limit strain.


When stress is causing headaches the primary treatment is stress management. Physiotherapy can assist in this with the use of deep breathing techniques and massage to promote relaxation and indirectly reduce symptoms.

If you are suffering from a headache, or are worried you may be developing problems mentioned above, come in and see our fantastic team of physiotherapists in Kew, or for an assessment, call (03) 9568 1011 or book online at www.alignhc.com.au.