Headache and Migraine Management

Headache and Migraine Management

Around 90% of all headaches and migraines are managed with medications, and long-term use of those medications. More recently research has shown headaches, including cervicogenic headaches, share a common pain pathway – the lower brainstem. 

Research has also shown that upper cervical joint manual therapy (joint mobilisations), provided by a trained professional, can have a significant impact on reducing the pain pathway, and reducing the overall symptoms and severity of those headaches. 

Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy is Brisbane’s most experienced headache specialty physiotherapy clinic for headache and migraine treatment. Call us today and see how we can help you with your headache and pain management.

Headache Types

While there are over 300 different types of headaches that have been clinically diagnosed, these are some of the more common types that we treat at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy. 

Cervicogenic Headaches

Generally speaking cervicogenic headaches are the most commonly treated type of headache at Leaders Sports & Spine Physiotherapy. A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache, meaning the root cause of the pain is not coming from the head, but coming from an external source. Cervicogenic headaches are caused by some form of dysfunction in the cervical (neck) area; joint irritation, disc irritation or injury, muscle spasm, etc. 

Cervicogenic headaches generally have the same two symptoms; neck stiffness, and increased pain/pressure in the head when certain areas around the neck are pressed. Some of the less common symptoms of cervicogenic headaches are; 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor concentration
  • Dizziness 

Cervicogenic headaches are generally best treated with a combination of manual therapy (joint mobilisations), muscle releases (soft, deep, and trigger point therapy), & exercise. The combination of these therapies will result in determining the underlying cause of the headaches, along with fully addressing the underlying cause while reducing overall pain.

Tension Headaches – acute & chronic

Tension headaches can be either acute (episodic) or chronic. The difference being the number of occurrences within a month, episodic being less than 15, & chronic being more than 15 occurrences within one month. 


A tension headache can be described as a tight band of tension around your head, kind of like wearing a headband. This tension comes on slowly and gradually, and generally doesn’t get too sharp with the pain staying around that mild to moderate intensity. 


The symptoms of an acute or chronic tension headache are relatively the same, due to the increased occurrence of the headaches, they can also have negative impacts on other aspects of your life. You may find;

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle aches through the shoulders and neck 
  • Mild to moderate light and noise
Migraine Headaches

Migraines are a little more complicated than tension headaches in that they have more variability within the symptoms. Generally migraines are divided into two categories; a migraine with an aura, or a migraine without. An aura is referring to symptoms an individual may experience prior (10-30mins) to the beginning of the migraine. These Aura symptoms may include; 

  • Being less mentally alert or having trouble concentrating
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Feeling sensations of tingling or numbness through the face or hands
  • Having unusual sensations of touch, taste, or smell

Along with the normal headache-type pain, migraine sufferers also experience symptoms such as; 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain behind one eye or ear
  • Seeing flashing lights or spots
  • Pain in the temples
  • Sensitivity to sound and/or light

Migraine sufferers generally also report various factors they relate to their migraines. These associated factors are called “migraine triggers”, and may include; 

  • Menopause
  • Emotional anxiety
  • Contraception
  • Alcohol 
  • Hormonal changes
Thunderclap Headaches

Thunderclap headaches are severe headaches that develop within 60 seconds. Generally speaking these headaches are actually a symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage (a bleed in the brain). If you experience anything like this, please go to the emergency department at your closest hospital – they are not headaches that you want to “leave and see how it feels”, every minute matters!