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Headaches are one of the most common reasons for visiting a physiotherapist. We treat two types, cervical (neck related) and tension headaches, both of these can be related to joint inflammation, disc irritation, muscle spasm, nerve irritation or muscle trauma. Such factors can cause the small joints in the neck to become stiffened and lose normal gliding movements. The surrounding soft tissue such as muscle, fascia, and tendons shorten and are less mobile causing the nerves and blood vessels around the upper back of the upper neck to become trapped. The upper mid spine (thoracic) is sometimes stiff and this causes tension.


Headaches present as a dull and aching discomfort and are often spread over the head and into the face. They can start at the base of the neck and radiate over the top to the forehead (Frontal), around the sides (Temporal) and can be one (Unilateral) or both (Bilateral) sides.


  • Poor posture
  • Inappropriate desk set up
  • Poor sleeping position i.e. pillow and/or mattress
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Neck problems


Techniques to correct the dysfunction by freeing up the soft tissues and joints include manipulation and mobilization which are highly effective at releasing stiff joints. Stretches and massage techniques correct muscle imbalances and relieve muscular tension. Ergonomic assessments help prevent a recurrence of the problem by altering sitting and sleeping postures.