Physiotherapy for headaches and migraines


If you have also been told that there is nothing you can do for your headaches or migraines except to take medication, then it’s time for a second opinion.

At Proactive Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists have a particular interest in the treatment of headaches and migraines, with several of our team having undertaken postgraduate studies in the specialty area of headache and migraine physiotherapy treatment.

We’ve also founded a specialist Cairns Headache and Migraine Clinic for the assessment and treatment of headaches, migraines and their related symptoms.

What causes headaches and migraines?

Because the nerves in your neck are closely related, via your brainstem, to the nerves in your face and head, problems with the way your neck moves or sits can directly affect the nerves which leads to headaches. Many headaches can be triggered or exacerbated by poor posture, repeated movements, stress or emotional tension.

Problems in your upper neck may be contributing to almost any type of headache, including those with associated symptoms such as aura, nausea, dizziness and even vomiting.

Signs that neck problems may be involved in your headache or migraines include:

  • If your headache occurs after you experience stiffness or an ache in your neck
  • If your headaches are aggravated by prolonged neck postures or movements
  • If your headaches are triggered by stress or emotional tension

Cervicogenic headaches – where the pain develops in your neck, but you feel it in your head – are often misdiagnosed as migraines as it can be quite difficult to distinguish a cervicogenic headache from a migraine headache.

At Proactive Physiotherapy, we believe in the International Headache Institute’s Bill of Rights which states that “the headache sufferer has the right to know his/her headache diagnosis as precisely as possible, and to know the nature of the headache disorder, it’s prognosis and the possible types of treatment”. It is necessary to have a thorough assessment by a skilled practitioner to achieve this outcome.

How we use physiotherapy to assess and treat headaches and migraines

Our specially trained physiotherapists often have a positive effect on even the most long-standing headaches, including those that may not, at first, seem as though they are related to the neck.

Current clinical research has shown that Cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches, migraines and other types of headaches can be effectively reduced or even eliminated with our physiotherapy techniques which include:

  • Manipulation
  • Soft tissue release
  • Therapeutic exercise

The Watson Headache Approach at the Cairns Headache and Migraine Clinic

Proactive Physiotherapy has several physiotherapists with post-graduate training in the assessment and treatment of headaches using the Watson Headache Institute method.

At our Cairns Specialist Headache and Migraine clinic, we use the Watson Headache Approach to treat headaches and migraines because of its accuracy in diagnosing the cause of headaches.

The Watson Headache Approach is also the only manual therapy technique shown to significantly desensitise the brain stem, reducing, if not ceasing, headaches within 5 treatment sessions.

Contact the clinic today to make an appointment to see one of our specially trained headache and migraine practitioners and ease the pain of your headache or migraine.