It goes without saying that headaches are one of the most common ailments. Everyone, unfortunately, experiences a headache every now and then.

There are two categories of headaches: primary and secondary.

Primary headaches: caused by problems with pain-sensitive structures in the head (not due to an underlying illness).

Secondary headaches: the symptom of an underlying illness, such as an injury, tumor, or infection.

To break it down further, here are the four types of headaches:

Neck Headaches

Neck headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, result from pain stemming from an underlying neck issue.

Tension Headaches

The most common types of headaches are tension headaches, usually due to emotional or physical stress. They often feel like a tight band of pressure around the head and are commonly associated with muscle tightness of the neck, head, or jaw.

Migraine Headaches

The headache that will bring on pulsing or throbbing pain is the infamous migraine, often linked to sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Migraines can also occur with disturbances of the nervous system, known as “aura”. Examples of aura include auditory disturbances (noises or music), sensory disturbances (pins and needles), visual disturbances (blurred vision or flashes of light), and even verbal disturbances (trouble speaking).  Environmental factors and genetics seem to play a role. Migraines may also be triggered by stress, changes in sleep patterns, medication, certain foods, or sensory stimuli.

Cluster Headaches

If there’s one type of headache that you definitely want to avoid, it’s the Cluster headache. They are extremely painful and often wake people up during the night with intense pain behind or around the eye or on one side of the head.  The cause is unclear, but researchers believe they may have something to do with the hypothalamus.

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapists are able to diagnose and help you manage headaches because they specialize in movement of the body and posture.

  • In terms of posture, they can show you how to properly stand – tall, with your chest lifted, head level, shoulders relaxed, and tucked chin.
  • They can consult with you about your workspace and habits. Stretching and sitting positions are really important.
  • They can show you which exercises will be able to help your weak or tight muscles.
  • They can advise you on pillow usage and sleeping position.
  • They can suggest various relaxation techniques, including massage therapy. Avoiding tension is key.

Curious if your physiotherapist can help you? You’ll never know unless you try! You have nothing to lose – only gain!


To see a physiotherapist for headaches in Vancouver, we would love to have you as a patient at Dunbar Physio. Book an appointment online or call us at 604-266-3303.