North Sydney Physiotherapy

Migraine & Headache


Not all headaches are the same. An individual may suffer from one particular type that tends to manifest in the same way and is brought on by similar conditions or from time to time experience a variety of headache types. When being treated for headache related pain it is worthwhile knowing what type of headache is being experienced.

Headache Classification

Know your Headache Type

When classifying headache are variety of factors are considered, firstly the location of the headache pain, the specific description of the type of pain felt, the consideration of possible triggers, and any associated symptoms ie. nausea. Gathering information about headache history and the success of potential relieving strategies are vital in the determination of headache type.

Knowing the type of Headache helps assist either employing strategies to avoid the Headache, and utilize treatment options with proven effectiveness.

There are three main types of Headache:

  • Migraine
  • Tension Head Aches
  • Cervicogenic Head Aches
Types of Headaches & Migraines
Headache Type by Pain Location

Classification of headache by cause

The potential cause of the Headache also helps to define the type of head ache.

  • Migraines are often precipitated by food allergies, hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, stress and particular smells.
  • Tension Headaches are mostly triggered by stress.
  • Cervicogenic Headaches are of musculoskeletal origin meaning they are brought about by prolonged postures, head pain or sustained neck postures ie. long periods of neck rotation: whilst on an aeroplane and looking out the window or sitting at a table talking to a person on one side .

Headache Pain Location

The location of pain, ie. whether the Headache is bilateral (on both sides of the head) or unilateral (one sided), located at the front of the head around the forehead, posteriorly at the base of the head or particularly around the eyes, assists build a diagnostic profile of each headache type. The pain location is one of a variety of factors combined with other headache attributes to make a final headache diagnosis.

  • Migraines generally tend to be unilateral and often experienced around the eye region,
  • Tension Headaches are mostly bilateral and felt around the base of neck and forehead, and
  • Cervicogenic Headaches typically unilateral, beginning at the base of the head and radiating forward.


Headache & Migraine Pain Location
Cluster Headache & Migraine

Headache Symptoms

Tension Headache suffers more frequently report feelings of tightness "like my head is caught in a vice"sensation, Cervicogenic Headaches are mostly strong and dull in nature, and Migraines are considered the most severe and often requiring the suffer to take complete bed rest until the symptoms pass.

Nausea and vomiting are the hallmark of Migraine behaviour along with photo-sensitivity (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to light).  Thus the sufferer often retreats to dark, quiet rooms and bed rest.

Cervicogenic Headache because of its musculoskeletal origin, often is combined with restricted head movements, particularly extension (looking up) and rotation.

Other symptoms may also be associated with the Headache and of worth taking note.

How we treat Headache & Migraine 
at Function and Form Physio

Previously successful treatment techniques provide the final clues in diagnosing the headache type. Many individuals will experience recurrent headaches and may have developed effective strategies.

  • Experienced Migraine sufferers often find medication to be most effective whether to prevent the headache or reduce the severity of systems once the headache has commenced. Bed rest and avoidance of light and loud noise where possible, is ideal.
  • Tension Headaches are eased with rest, and strategies formulated around stress reduction ie. exercise, meditation, sleep.
  • Cerviogenic Headaches have great success particularly with Physiotherapy: massage, exercise prescription and manual therapy. Postural assessment of the patient and the workplace can be invaluable. The musculoskeletal origin of the underlying muscle weakness needs to be addressed with a strategic and individualized program.

At Function and Form we have had great success working with relieving acute and chronic headaches and the ongoing management of migraine sufferers.

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