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  • Writer's picturePursuit of Motion

Got Headaches? We Got You Covered.

"38% of individuals experience tension headaches each year."

Headaches and migraines are very common issues in the population and can lead to individuals missing work or activities due to symptoms. Physiotherapy has been shown to help reduce headache symptoms, intensity and duration, and your physiotherapist will work with you to understand the type of headache and symptoms you experience to guide your treatment. Here we will go over the different types of headaches and the importance of rehabilitation in managing your symptoms.

Types of Headaches

There are 2 different types of headaches, and these are primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not the result of another medical condition and consist of migraines and tension-type headaches.

Secondary headaches can be attributed to trauma, cranial/vascular disorders, infection, or issues with the face, TMJ, eyes or nose. As a clinic that treats a lot of secondary headaches resulting from jaw issues, the symptoms experienced because of these types of headaches can help guide our treatment.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and can affect all aspects of life. They can become chronic if they last for more than 15 days out of the month for 3 consecutive months. 38% of individuals experience tension headaches each year. They often occur at the base of the head, the upper back and neck, above the ears, the jaw, or above the eyes.


Migraines are the next type of primary headaches, and they are quite prevalent in the population with 12% of people experiencing migraines at one point. They can occur for 4-72 hours and result in severe pain. They are often one sided, and involve symptoms such as throbbing pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and odors. People may also experience auras with migraines, which happen about 20 minutes to an hour before a migraine and can result in seeing bright flashes of light, blind spots, or other visual changes.

How to tell the difference between a tension headache and a migraine

Tension headaches are typically characterized by having pain across the head or on both sides, whereas migraines typically result in one sided pain (although this isn’t always necessarily the case). Migraines can also cause sensitivity to light, sound and odors, which can also help you differentiate between the two.

So how does physiotherapy help with headaches?

If you have a secondary headache resulting from issues such as the jaw issues or concussion, we treat the primary cause of the headache in order to help reduce your symptoms.

For primary headaches, research shows that physiotherapy can provide significant reductions in pain symptoms from tension type headaches along with secondary headaches.

Manual therapy has specifically been shown to reduce frequency, duration and intensity of headaches, with trigger point therapy and exercise also being shown to reduce headache symptoms. This is why it is important to stay active and see your physiotherapist to help reduce your headache symptoms!

If you experience headaches or have any questions about how physiotherapy can help with your headaches, reach out to us and we will give you a hand.


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