According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 50% of the worlds population have had a symptomatic headache at least once in the last year. For the purpose of this blog we will focus primarily on the three most common forms of headaches.


Migraine’s are generally the most severe form of headaches, more commonly affecting females. These headaches are often pulsating and associated with nausea, vomiting and light or sound sensitivity. Migraine’s are often recurrent and sufferers of them generally can develop a pattern with the onset of these.

Tension Type Headache (TTH)

TTH are described as the most common form of headaches with tightness and pressure often used as the descriptors of this headache. With all pain presentations multiple factors can contribute to these, such as stress, emotions, beliefs as well as physical factors. Normally these headaches last for a few hours.

Cervicogenic Headaches (CGH)

CGH’s are the headaches that Physiotherapists can help with. These headaches are characterised by associated neck pain or tightness. CGH’s have clear aggravating factors and easing factors with the headache also being able to be reproduced with physical pressure through the cervical spine. The upper cervical spine muscles work to stabilise your gaze and reduce the work that the eye muscles need to do to track your vision. This explains the referral of pain into the back of the eye commonly associated with CGH’s.

With regards to CGH’s, manual therapy through the neck and shoulders is highly effective. This alongside with good consistent aerobic and strength exercise can reduce the severity and frequency of these types of headaches.

Whilst informative, the advice in this blog is generalised and if you suffer from headaches a thorough assessment with your Physiotherapist or General Practitioner would be critical to accurately diagnose your headache presentation and provide you with a complete management plan.