Headache Information by Senior Physiotherapist Daniel Browne


A headache is one of the most uncomfortable sensations a person can experience. Headaches can vary from a transient ache to  perceivably crushing unrelenting pressure. When treating a headache, physiotherapists must first establish whether or not we are dealing with a primary or secondary headache.

Primary headaches can include migraines which can be described as episodic (i.e. they periodically come and go) lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days, ‘tension type headaches’ (the most common type of primary headache) which can also be considered episodic and have a more chronic (long term) nature to it, as well as the subcategory of ‘cold’ headaches relating to a sensitivity of being outside in colder temperatures (think from the exposure to direct cold (ice pack) or experienced in the consumption of cold –  like a brain freeze when eating an icy pole!).

Secondary headaches on the other hand are generally more common and are a result of either too much or too little load on the musculoskeletal system (particularly the head, neck, shoulders, and thoracic spine) coming from prolonged poor ergonomics (work postures), an injury playing sport or in the community (such as whiplash), as well as neural referral from issues such as pain in the jaw (TMJ, teeth clenching or grinding at night) or inner ear pathologies (vestibular headaches) – not to mention the age old situation of not wearing your glasses when you should!

As you can see, there can be many contributors to a headache. Often, unfortunately, the longer the headache is left to brew – the worse it gets. A physiotherapist will firstly  gather a detailed history to help ascertain the contributing factors. From here, a combination of manual therapy, individualised exercises, as well as ergonomic advice and pain-relieving strategies will comprise the first session.

Everyone’s headache experience is different and here at Select Physiotherapy and Pilates we pride ourselves on offering each of our clients a tailored and evidence-based solution fit to their situation.

We look forward to helping you soon!

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