Ever wonder if your headache is something more than stress?

We have all experienced a headache at some point in our lives. You know, that nagging pain that comes at the worst possible time. Some headaches are stress related and simply go away on their own, but there are other types of headaches as well. If you have ever had a headache for multiple days in a row, then you’ve experienced a headache that was not just caused by stress.


A migraine headache is often described as a dull or throbbing pain that is felt on one side of the head. Some people experience something called an “aura” which is a signal that lets them know that they are going to get a migraine. Migraines last for several hours and can lead to other symptoms such as visual disturbances, disequilibrium, nausea and vomiting.

Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache has a sudden onset and is localized to one side of the head. They are induced or made worse by alcohol and may be associated with sleep apnea. They have a short duration ( less than 60 minutes). Pain is described as excruciating. Typically men who have a history of smoking experience cluster headaches.

Tension Headaches

Tension Headaches pain pathway

A tension headache is the most common type of recurrent headache. They last anywhere from hours to days! The pain develops over time, affects both sides of the head and radiates into the neck or shoulders. Neck and shoulder rigidity are present with poor posture. A tension headache causes the inability to concentrate, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears and tenderness to the scalp.

Cervicogenic Headaches

A cervicogenic headache is any headache that begins in the neck, runs to the back of the head and, at times, around toward both ears. Pain is worsened by specific types of neck movements. Head and neck motions are limited and tender to the touch.

Physiotherapy’s Role

A Physiotherapist will examine head and neck range of motion, muscle strength and integrity as well as nerve involvement. This is performed in order to find the cause and type of your headache. Doctors of Physical Therapy provide manual therapy to reduce tension through soft tissue mobilization and joint manipulation to correct alignment. The first step to eliminate headaches is to reduce pain. Once pain has subsided, the Physiotherapist will retrain your muscles to prevent further headaches from returning.

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