Headaches affect 47% of the global population on a regular basis. Some people suffer from them monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily, and the headache can range from being a nuisance to being completely debilitating, disrupting your ability to drive, work, concentrate, do daily chores or even stand upright.

According to the International Headache Society there are over 130 distinct disorders identified and over 300 causes of headaches. Fortunately, most of the common headaches can be identified and treated effectively if you know what to look for.

Headaches page

Tension headaches

Tension-type headaches, despite the name, are not necessarily caused by tension or stress.  Triggers can include excessive muscle contraction such as frowning or jaw-clenching.

  • poor posture at work, home and when driving
  • bright lights, prolonged reading, loud noise
  • medication overuse
  • stress, anxiety
  • fatigue, emotional upsets, depression.

Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are related to neck pain, involving the top three vertebrae of the neck. These headaches can develop as a result of certain conditions, such as a concussion or arthritis, but work-related strain can also trigger a cervicogenic headache. Professions that require a down-turned motion of the head or neck are the most prone for developing cervicogenic headaches. This may include hairdressers, long-haul drivers, chefs, nail artists and anyone who works on a computer.


Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms. For many people the main feature is a painful headache. Other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. Migraine attacks can be very frightening and may result in you having to lie still for several hours.

There is no known cause for migraine, although most people tend to be genetically predisposed. The current theory is that migraine is caused by very complicated interactions between the brain and the cranial blood vessels. where electrical activity in the nerves in the brain stimulate the surrounding blood vessels to dilate and release painful inflammatory chemicals.

Interestingly (or frustratingly), they can also co-exist. You can simultaneously suffer a number of different types of headaches or a migraine at the same time where one may cause another or overlap with each other. These are known as Mixed or Multi- source headaches and can take longer to resolve as your therapist works through treating the different causes.


Contributing factors to headaches have been shown to include poor postures and repetitive movements that may strain your neck. These could include desk or computer set up, studying and working

with a chin forward/poking chin posture, bad ergonomics at work, constantly turning to one side, hanging washing on a line, looking up for long periods or similarly constantly looking down. Any one of these postures or bad habits can cause muscle spasm, muscle imbalance and weakness as well as strain the joints in your neck all of which can refer pain to the head and result in headaches. Your Osteopath can identify poor posture and muscle weakness as well as assess your work or home space and daily activities where they can give advice to make corrections and perform corrective exercises.

Of course your Osteopath will also use a number of manual , hands-on therapy techniques to reduce the intensity and duration of the headache.

At your initial appointment, your Osteopath will conduct a thorough assessment of your body, and ask you questions about your pain symptoms and medical history in order to determine what type of headache you are experiencing and where the root cause of the pain is located.


If you suffer from regular headaches, don’t despair. There are treatments and advice you can receive from your Osteopath to help manage them.

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