Published: 25 Feb 2014


Poor concentration, bad moods, pounding, dull, throbbing pain in your head, sensitive to light or sound, dizziness, nausea?  We explore common causes of  headache pain and how it can be managed. Without drugs.

Have you suffered from a headache recently?  You are not alone!

Headaches are a common problem and affect 87% of the Australian population in a given year.

Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. Usually characterised by a diffuse and dull ache in the head that can vary from mild to severe, this type of headache is not affected by activity. Causes include muscle tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders that can be a result of feelings of stress, anxiety or depression, prolonged postures (sitting or standing for long periods of time), or change in muscle tension due to a previous injury.There are many different types of headaches, and some types can be treated effectively without medication.

Cervicogenic headaches are literally a pain in the neck. It is not uncommon for neck pain (longstanding or acute) to refer up into the head to cause a headache. These types of headaches are often associated with a loss of movement and tenderness in the neck. Some characteristics of cervicogenic headaches include pain starting in the neck and radiating up into the head, the pain is on the same side as the neck pain and does not swap sides, and the headache appears to come on with certain neck movements.

Jaw pain or temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction pain can also cause headaches. These can present as an ear ache or pain on the side of your head. This type of headache can be mild to severe in pain intensity.

Migraines can be quite painful and generally last from a few hours to a few days. Some typical characteristics of migraine include throbbing or pulsating headache to one side of the head, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, activity worsens and rest eases the headache. Some common triggers of migraine include certain foods (chocolate, caffeine and wine!), stress, dehydration, bright lighting, and loss of appetite.

Physiotherapy can effectively treat certain types of headaches and prevent the recurrence of headaches. Depending on your individual needs treatment may include gentle mobilization of your neck or jaw, massage, specific exercises to correct posture, heat and increasing physical activity.