sydney cbd physioWhat is causing your headache?

There are countless potential causes to a headache. It may be to do with lifestyle; water (not enough), diet (too much sugar, salt, caffeine), sleep habits (not enough, bad bed), stress levels (tension headaches, high blood pressure), incorrect glasses, headgear or lighting in your work space, a change on medication or supplement…

Or, in can be more to do with a physical illness; migraines, sinus congestion, ear or tooth infection, hormonal imbalance, cluster headaches, coughing headaches etc…in cases of sudden or severe headaches, stroke, tumors, concussion, meningitis and intracranial hematomas all need to be ruled out.

If you are getting chronic (repeating) headaches it is important to see your doctor to rule out any of the illnesses above.

A Headache can be related to an imbalance, injury or illness in another part of the body, this can throw you off balance, affecting how your head receives blood, lymph and neural flow.

Tension Headache?

Tension Headache is the most common headache in Australia.

If you’ve had a read of the symptoms presenting in the illnesses by following the links above, and/or, seen your doctor and you are satisfied you do not have a serious condition, it is likely your headache is coming from Posture and / or Stress – known as Tension Headache.

The head sits atop of the posture. Its position of balance is affected by the rest of the body. You’ve heard that the ears need to stay aligned for our sense of balance to work? This is true. The head or we should say, neck, will automatically adjust its position to hold the head and ear canals and eyes straight.

The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae stacked on top of one another with a cushion, known as the disc in between – the spine in the neck makes up the cervical spine. The spine is flexible, being able to move in all directions to support movement. The spine attaches to the skull under the occipital ridge. Often, somewhere along the spine, cervical spine or occipital ridge, the vertebra may sit out of place. This can be in a forward or side position.

When the head tilts forward to far during the day, when using a computer for example, the neck and back muscles and spine have to hold the head upright, this causes tension (tightening) to occur in the soft tissues, as well as a curve in the spine.

headaches physiotherapist sydney cbd

The head becomes a heavier load for the spine to carry, the further forward it sits


If the pelvis or mid back sits out of line, through leg crossing for example, this can in turn cause the rest of the back to sway out of line and, in turn, the head to tilt. The cervical spine will often tilt away from the curve to balance the head. Often, if this is the case, a lumpy, knotted presence is felt in the neck underneath the skull.

When we are under stress, our body assumes the position of fight or flight. This often means that the muscles of the shoulder and neck engage to a lightly heightened position. As well as this, blood flow to the brain is increased, this blood flow will sometimes struggle to reach the brain in times of stress and a feeling of pressure can grow in and around the head. Repeated stress can cause the tightening of the connective tissues that make up the head and neck.

The build up of tension and knots in the cervical spine and cranial muscle area can cause headaches by restricting blood flow, impinging nerves, creating an imbalance and muscular tension – which can spread across the muscles of the cranium creating a vice like pain in the head.


Treatment of a Tension Headache

  1. Try moving more and stretching throughout your day to a) loosen up tight areas and b) stop new restrictions appearing through sedentary action
  2. A Heat pack wrapped around the neck in the evening can be a useful tool for increasing blood flow to the affected area
  3. Gentle flowing exercise like Yoga or Pilates
  4. Check your desk set up so you can keep your back and neck straight
  5. Amend your posture so you are not crossing legs or leaning forward
  6. Remedial Massage to reduce tension from the scalp and shoulders and stress from your whole body
  7. Self massage – try squeezing and lifting the cranial muscles to ‘lift them away from the skull’
  8. Time to relax and reflect on the day so that stress does not build up
  9. Physiotherapy to access the position of the joints in your spine and skull
  10. Dry needling to reduce muscles knots and bring a sense of balance


There are a lot more tips to treat your headache

If you are unsure on what best to do, speak to our friendly team today

Our team of Sydney Physiotherapists can help you today without disrupting your working day