Headaches

What is a headache?

Headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the skull or the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers). The thin layer of tissue (periosteum) that surrounds bones, muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears, as well as thin tissues that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord (meninges), arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated and cause headache. The pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, intermittent, mild, or intense.

How are headaches classified?

In 2013, the International Headache Society released its latest classification system for headache. Because so many people suffer from headaches, and because treatment is difficult sometimes, the Headache Society hoped that the new classification system would help health care professionals make a more specific diagnosis as to the type of headache a patient has, and allow better and more effective options for treatment.

The guidelines are extensive, and the Headache Society recommends that health care professionals consult the guidelines frequently to make certain of the diagnosis.

There are three major categories of headache based upon the source of the pain.

  1. Primary headaches
  2. Secondary headaches
  3. Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches

The guidelines also note that a patient may have symptoms that are consistent with more than one type of headache, and that more than one type of headache may be present at the same time.

How can Physiotherapy help?

We provide a number of treatment modalities to help you manage your pain and reduce the recurrence of your headache including:

  • Joint mobilisation techniques
  • Massage
  • Dry Needling
  • Postural retraining
  • Education and self management strategies