Decoding the Puzzling World of Headaches: Types and Physiotherapy Solutions

Decoding the Puzzling World of Headaches: Types and Physiotherapy Solutions

The universal annoyance of a persistent headache is an experience many of us have encountered, each describing the discomfort in unique ways - a tight elastic band, a throbbing pain, or a sensation linked to head movements. Interestingly, these nuances in headache perception can offer valuable insights into the potential causes. Extensive research has identified over 300 headache triggers, but they can generally be categorized into three types: migraines, tension-type headaches, and cervicogenic headaches.

Understanding the Differences:

  • Migraines: Characterized by an intense, throbbing pain, migraines often accompany symptoms like sensitivity to light or sound, and nausea or vomiting. Although the exact cause remains elusive, a prevailing theory suggests dysfunction in the nerves and blood vessels of the brain.
  • Tension-Type Headaches: The most common type, these headaches manifest as a constant pressure around the head, akin to a squeezing rubber band. While generally less intense than migraines, tension-type headaches can be triggered by various stressors such as high stress levels, lack of sleep, increased screen time, sore eyes, heightened tension in the head and neck, and dehydration.
  • Cervicogenic Headaches: Responding well to physiotherapy, cervicogenic headaches stem from dysfunction in the cervical spine joints. Prolonged poor neck positions or whiplash incidents, such as those in car crashes, can lead to symptoms like headaches triggered by neck movements or painful restrictions in neck mobility.

Physiotherapy's Role in Headache Management:

If you're grappling with persistent headaches, it's advisable to consult your GP for a thorough evaluation. Migraines often involve medical intervention, while tension-type headaches can often be alleviated by addressing contributing factors. Cervicogenic headaches, in particular, benefit from physiotherapy intervention.

Potential reasons for cervicogenic headaches include stiff joints in the cervical spine, muscular imbalances, weak neck stabilizers, poor posture, and tight or overactive global neck muscles restricting proper cervical spine movement. Physiotherapy aims to tackle these issues, normalizing movement and alleviating symptoms.

In summary, headaches are diverse in their origins, and understanding their distinct characteristics is crucial for effective management. While migraines may require medical attention, tension-type headaches benefit from lifestyle adjustments. For cervicogenic headaches, physiotherapy emerges as a valuable ally, addressing underlying issues to promote normalized movement and reduce symptoms.

Andrew Huynh

Hi everyone, I’m Andrew and I head ESPR Therapy & Training. I’m passionate about helping people discover their potential and achieving their goals. For me, that means building resilience and strength (both physical and mental) in you to overcome whatever obstacles you’re facing. I completed my Bachelors in physiotherapy at the University of Sydney in 2017 which has taken me to both public and private sectors. A key highlight of my career is working within an elite NPL 1 soccer team which involved modifying training loads and integrating rehab programs to help athletes recover and return to the field ASAP. Over the years, I developed an interest in the area of strength and conditioning which led me to complete an internship at one of Sydney’s most renowned S&C gyms - Ethos Performance. From this, I learnt how to program training blocks so that athletes can gain the specific movement qualities that will enhance their sporting performance. I have also completed further study & training in pain science and dry needling which allowed me to understand and minimise patients symptoms. Outside of work, I train regularly in MMA and spoil my 2 beautiful pupperinos - Nala and Kira - to bush walks and hikes. If you have an injury or training goals, I’ve got your back!