Tension Headache

Tension Headache


Article by John Miller


Tension Headache

Understanding and Managing

What is a Tension Headache?

Tension headaches, the most commonly experienced form of headache, affect up to 80% of individuals at some point. These headaches, while less severe than migraines, can disrupt daily activities, especially when they become frequent or chronic.

Identifying Symptoms of Tension Headache

Tension headaches often present as a mild to moderate pressing sensation on both sides of the head. They can become chronic, lasting over 180 days a year. Unlike migraines, they rarely involve both sensitivity to light and sound and seldom include nausea.

Diagnosing Tension Headaches

Diagnosis relies on symptom patterns and response to initial treatments, as no single test confirms a tension headache. Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can identify underlying causes, though they don’t directly diagnose tension headaches.

Tension Headache

Tension Headache

Role of Physiotherapy and Massage in Treatment

Physiotherapy and massage effectively alleviate tension headaches by reducing muscle stiffness. Techniques include joint mobilisation, muscle stretching, acupuncture, dry needling, posture correction, and neck-strengthening exercises.

When to Seek Further Help

If physiotherapy and massage do not provide relief, a healthcare professional may explore other potential headache sources. Persistent headaches warrant consultation with a doctor, who may refer you to a neurologist.

The Complexity of Mixed Headache Disorders

Tension headaches can co-occur with other types of headaches, such as neck headaches and migraines. Identifying the primary cause is crucial for effective treatment.

The Impact of Pillows on Tension Headaches

An inappropriate pillow can worsen tension headaches. Choosing a supportive pillow that aligns with your neck’s needs is important for prevention and ensuring restful, pain-free sleep.

Recent Research in Tension Headache Management

Recent studies have highlighted the effectiveness of targeted physiotherapy interventions in managing tension headaches. This includes techniques focusing on the cervical and upper thoracic spine, which have shown significant promise in reducing the frequency and intensity of tension headaches.

Preventing Tension Headaches

Incorporating lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, maintaining good posture, especially while working at desks, and staying hydrated can prevent the onset of tension headaches. Regular sleep patterns and stress management techniques also play a key role.

What to Do? Seeking Professional Advice

If you suspect a tension headache, it’s essential to consult a physiotherapist or doctor. Your physiotherapist can provide tailored exercises, posture correction advice, and hands-on therapy to alleviate your symptoms. It’s also advisable to keep a headache diary to help identify potential triggers and patterns.


Tension headaches, though common, needn’t significantly disrupt your life. Understanding symptoms, seeking early intervention, and adopting preventive measures can greatly improve your quality of life. Remember, your physiotherapist is a valuable resource in managing these headaches effectively.

More Info


Article by Matthew Hewitt

Headache Causes

Headaches and migraines, unfortunately common, can greatly affect our lives. Understanding their types and causes is key to effective management and treatment.

Headaches and migraines can stem from a variety of factors. These include conditions related to the neck and jaw. Some specific types you might experience are neck, tension, cluster, and migraines.

Neck-related issues like neck pain, facet dysfunction, and pinched nerves can also lead to headaches. Additionally, jaw conditions such as TMJ pain and dysfunction can cause jaw headaches.

Headache Symptoms Differ

Identifying a headache's location, duration, and intensity can help pinpoint potential causes and effective treatments. This information isn't definitive but helps distinguish possible headache or migraine types.

Headache Causes
Headache Causes

Common Headache Types

Tension-Type Headaches

Tension-type headaches usually feel like a band across the forehead, extending into the neck. They are continuous, non-pulsating, and may be accompanied by neck or shoulder tenderness, but not nausea or increased sensory sensitivity.

Jaw Headache

TMJ or jaw-related headaches are localised around the jaw and ear, affecting one side. They often come with jaw movement issues, chewing difficulties, or sensations of clicking, locking, and catching in the jaw. TMJ physiotherapists and your dentist are good practitioners to start with to assess and treat your TMJ headache.

Neck Headache

Neck headaches (cervicogenic headaches) are typically a steady, non-throbbing pain at the skull's base, around one eye, or over the top of the head. They may also involve limited neck mobility, but this is not essential. your physiotherapist is best person to see for assessing and relieving your neck headache.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are intensely concentrated around one eye. Accompanying symptoms can include a runny nose, drooping or reddened eye, or increased facial perspiration.

Concussion Headache

Concussion-related headaches resemble migraines with a throbbing sensation and are closely linked to concussions. If these headaches worsen, or if symptoms like slurred speech, seizures, or unusual behaviour occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are characterised by pain, pressure, or fullness from the sinuses, often worsening when bending forward or lying down. They can also cause toothache-like pain or nasal congestion.


Migraines often affect one side of the head, involving the entire side of the head and face. They can occur with or without visual disturbances (aura) and include symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light and noise.

In Conclusion

The causes of headaches and migraines vary, as do their treatments. Consult a healthcare practitioner such as your physiotherapist or doctor for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plans. Understanding these differences is essential for effective headache management and relief.

General Information

Headache FAQs


Article by John Miller

Experiencing a Headache or Migraine?

Understand Your Options

Headaches and migraines are more than just a nuisance; they can significantly disrupt your daily life. When you start experiencing these symptoms, it's imperative to seek medical advice. Doctors often recommend neurological assessments and may suggest a CT or MRI scan. These scans are vital for excluding serious conditions like aneurysms or tumours. Most of the time, fortunately, the results are normal.

What to Do When Your Scans Are Clear

Getting a clear scan result brings a sigh of relief, eliminating concerns about serious underlying causes. Yet, the task of identifying the source of your headaches or migraines remains.

Identifying the Root Cause of Your Headache

At PhysioWorks, we understand that diagnosing the root cause of headaches is a key step in treatment. We primarily focus on three types of headaches:

Headache Migraine Treatment
Managing Headache & Migraines

Understanding Neck-Related Headaches

Researchers feel that about one in four headaches is linked to neck issues. A thorough neck examination by a skilled headache physiotherapist is crucial. In many cases, the physiotherapist can diagnose and begin treating your neck headache from the first consultation.

Neck Headache: A Deeper Insight

Neck headaches, or cervicogenic headaches, often originate from neck joints, muscles, or ligaments. Symptoms include pain starting at the back of the head, radiating forwards, neck stiffness, and sometimes shoulder or arm pain. Physiotherapy techniques like manual therapy, specific exercises, and posture correction can provide significant relief.

Related article: Neck Headaches

Tension-Type Headaches: Understanding and Management

Tension-type headaches, marked by a band-like pain around the head, are frequently associated with stress, poor posture, and muscular tension. Physiotherapy plays a critical role in managing these headaches, offering stress-reduction techniques, ergonomic advice, and exercises to improve posture and muscle function.

Related article: Tension-Type Headaches

TMJ Headaches: The Role of Physiotherapy

TMJ headaches, stemming from jaw joint and muscle issues, present symptoms like facial pain, jaw clicking, and chewing difficulties. Physiotherapists, with a skillset in jaw disorders, offer specialised exercises, manual therapy, and advice to improve jaw function.

Related article: TMJ headaches

Latest Research and Developments

Recent studies underscore the effectiveness of physiotherapy in headache management. Techniques such as dry needling, acupuncture, specific neck and shoulder exercises, posture correction, and relaxation strategies have shown promise in reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Conclusion: Seeking Professional Help

Managing headaches and migraines often requires a targeted approach. Physiotherapy offers a range of treatments customised to your needs. If headaches or migraines are affecting your life, consider consulting a qualified headache physiotherapist. This could be a significant step towards a pain-free life. However, always start with a doctor's consultation to exclude any serious underlying conditions.

Call to Action: Consult a Professional

Don't let headaches dictate your life. Reach out to a headache physiotherapist or your doctor today to embark on your journey to recovery and improved quality of life. Remember, investing in your health is paramount.

What to Do? Seek Professional Advice from Your Physiotherapist

If you're struggling with headaches or migraines, the first step is to consult a physiotherapist specialised in headache management. They can provide a comprehensive assessment and tailor a treatment plan suited to your specific needs, incorporating the latest research and techniques. Booking a consultation can be your first step towards finding relief and regaining control of your life.

Additional Information

For more details on specific headache types, migraine comparisons, and frequently asked questions, visit our website for comprehensive guides on: