Osteopathy for Headaches An Effective Treatment Solution?

What is a Headache?

Headaches can be a debilitating condition for many people, they can have a large impact on a person’s social and professional life. Headaches are one of the most common health conditions in Australia with 15 percent of people taking pain relieving medication for them. There are many different types of headaches so it is important to get a diagnosis so your headaches can be treated and managed accordingly.

Headaches is pain that occurs on your head and can range in severity and can occur with other symptoms. Osteopaths regularly assess, diagnose and treat individuals with headaches and migraines. Your Osteopath can work with you to determine the cause of your headaches and can help to reduce the severity and frequency of your headaches as well as manage your symptoms.

Osteopathy is a non-invasive form of manual therapy that aims to improve the health of all the body systems. Osteopaths use a range of hands-on techniques to achieve and promote health and take a holistic approach to the treatment and management of your injury and symptoms.

Osteopaths approach the treatment and management of headaches holistically and will take into account all possible factors that may be contributing to your headache and migraine pain and provide manual treatment to relieve tension.

Common Types of Headaches

Some of the more common types of headaches are:

  • Cervicogenic headache
  • Tension headache
  • Sinus headache
  • Cluster headache
  • Migraines

Cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headaches result from a dysfunction in the cervical spine otherwise known as the neck that refers pain into the head and face.

Cervicogenic headaches usually present one sided (unilaterally) and can be felt at the base of the head, neck and behind the eyes. The pain is usually an aching quality of pain.

Cervicogenic headaches may be aggravated with head movements, sleeping positions, prolonged postures of sitting or may even be referred from a shoulder injury.

Tension Headaches

Tension type headaches usually present and a tight band across the forehead. Tension headaches are caused by muscle spasms of the head and neck and are typically aggravated by stress and anxiety.

Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are caused by increased mucous or blockage within our sinus. Our sinus can be found in our head and are a part of our lymphatic system that helps move fluid throughout our body.

Sinus headaches typically are felt across the forehead and can be aggravated by lying down.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches can be severe in pain intensity. They are usually felt behind the eye or one side of your head.

Cluster headaches are a rare type of headache and are more common in males.


Migraines is a severe throbbing headache that can be associated with nausea and vomiting. Migraines can have a range of causes and vary person to person. Some migraine triggers may include: food, lights, noise and exercise.

Headache symptoms

Different types of headaches present differently. Below is a diagram of how some of the more common types of headaches will typically present.

Cause of headaches

There are many causes of headaches and depending on the type of headache you are experiencing. Some causes of Headaches can include:

  • Stress
  • Muscular tension
  • Poor posture
  • Trauma
  • Fatigue
  • Jaw dysfunction, dental problems, teeth grinding
  • Eye problems
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor sleep patterns

Osteopathic examination of headaches and migraines

An Osteopathic approach to the examination of headaches and migraines will focus on the function of the upper back shoulders and neck and identify any dysfunctions that may be referring to your headache symptoms.

Your Osteopath will take you through a range of different movements to assess how your body is moving as a whole to identify dysfunction. During the examination your Osteopath will go through a range of tests to help determine how to best treat and manage your headaches.. This may  include orthopedic testing,  neurological testing, movement testing or postural assessments. During your examination your Osteopath may take you through some passive and active ranges of movement to examine the general movement and function of the area and how they function on a day to day basis. To ensure that the examination being performed can be achieved efficiently it is asked that you wear comfortable and appropriate clothing that will not restrict your movement.

During your examination considerations of your occupation and work posture, exercise routines, and sleeping positions will be considered in the overall treatment and management of your headaches. This can help you identify triggers that may be exacerbating your headaches and your osteopath will be able to provide education on how this may be aggravating your symptoms and ways that this can be changed to help prevent your headaches from occurring.

An Osteopath will also take a thorough case history and examination to rule out any more sinister causes of your headaches and if advised will refer you to a specialist for further investigation in some cases.

Osteopathic treatment for headaches and migraines

More often than not headaches have a component to them that is worsened due to a dysfunction of your temporomandibular joint, upper back shoulder or neck and will focus the treatment on these areas.

An Osteopath can treat a wide range of musculoskeletal complaints. Osteopathy focuses on the musculoskeletal system, which is made up of the muscles, joints and spine. An Osteopathic approach to treatment is aimed to have a positive effect on the body’s nervous system, circulatory system and lymphatic system for our bodies to function at their optimal capabilities, promote health and healing of the body.

Osteopathy treatment consists of a range of different hands on techniques to address these dysfunctions. Your Osteopath may provide exercises, education, postural advice and ergonomics

Some of the Osteopathic techniques that may be used includes:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint articulation
  • Muscle energy technique
  • HVLA/manipulation
  • Taping
  • Shockwave

When treating headaches, usually a combined approach is most successful. With the treatment of headaches it will take into account all your triggers and treat accordingly.

Managing headaches and migraines

When managing headaches and migraines it is important to know your triggers and factors that aggravate your symptoms as this varies from every individual.

Your Osteopath can help you manage your headaches by improving the function and mobility of your upper back, shoulders and neck through hands on treatment, education and exercise prescription.

Book an Osteopathy appointment today

If you suffer from headaches or migraines, book an Osteopathy appointment today to help manage your symptoms. You can make an appointment by calling the clinic on 03 8899 6277 or booking an appointment online.