Physiotherapy for headaches

Written by Carol Hopkins

There are a couple of different classifications of headaches. This blog hopes outline each type and how physiotherapy may be able to help you. It is very important to see your GP if you regularly suffer from headaches, if this is your first headache, or if this is your worst headache yet.

Tension Type Headaches (TTH)

This type of headache can be either episodic which means you have less than 15 days a month or they can be chronic meaning you experience more than 15 days a month. These headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days. People often describe them as a bilateral pressing or tightening head pain with no significant associated symptoms. Along with this people often have tenderness in their neck and shoulders.

Cervicogenic Headaches

This type of headache is often secondary pain felt in the head from a source in the neck. This pain is often felt on one side of the head. There is often no pattern of frequency, severity, duration or any associated features. There may also be a history of neck trauma or poor posture.


This type of head pain is different as it is a disorder of the central nervous system resulting in pain & neurological symptoms. There can be a genetic predisposition to migraine. Attacks normally last 4-72 hours. This pain is also often felt on one side of the head and described as a pulsating, moderate to severe pain. Sufferers can also experience associated symptoms such as, nausea or photophobia.

Physiotherapists commonly see TTH and cervicogenic headaches. There are 20 muscles that refer pain to the head. Your physiotherapist will use techniques such as soft tissue and trigger point release, dry needling, exercise rehabilitation and massage along with others to treat the headaches.

If you are experiencing any of the above please contact us on 01-4913228 for an appointment with one of our Chartered Physiotherapists. If you would like more information on types of headaches and the treatments available you can also contact Migraine Association of Ireland.

lady with neck pain
woman with headache