Headaches and Migraines are one of the most common, yet debilitating chronic pain conditions you can experience.

Sufferers often miss school, work and social events, and have their work, relationships and overall quality of life disrupted constantly.

It is estimated that over 6 million people in Australia suffer from frequent headaches, and about 15% will take pain relieving medication on a regular basis to treat them. They can affect any person, however are most commonly reported by those between 25 – 44 yrs of age.

But the good news is that there are many treatment options out there for you to try. Find out more about headaches and migraines below, and various treatments that can help.

What are Headaches?

A headache is a term that refers to a type of long-lasting or persistent pain in any part of the head. They most commonly occur above the eyes, at the back of the upper neck, at the base of the head, or at the temples, and can range in severity and frequency.

Headaches can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision or light and/or noise sensitivity.

Lower Back

Types of Headaches


Primary headaches occur when the pain is the only condition and it isn’t being triggered by an illness or allergy etc.

They can be Episodic which is an occasional headache,occuring no more than 15 days in one month. Or they can be Chronic, which is much more consistent occurring more than 15 days in a month, with a pain management plan required.

More than 200 headache types have been described in medical journals. Here are the most common types –

  • Tension Type Headaches – This is the most common type, with symptoms generally pain and discomfort that can feel dull or tight on both sides of your head. You can also feel tenderness or sensitivity around your neck, forehead, scalp or shoulder muscles and it may last from 30 minutes to 7 days. Stress is usually a big trigger.
  • Cluster Headaches – These headaches are rare and can be very painful, as they occur in groups or clusters of attacks. You can experience pain behind one eye that feels stabbing or burning, or you might have a runny nose and a red eye with tears. You can also experience swelling, redness, flushing and sweating on the side that is affected. They can last up to 3 hours and some people have one every other day, or some have 8 per day.
  • Migraines – Migraines are a headache disorder that cause an intense pulsing pain deep in your head. Symptoms include throbbing pain (usually on one side of head), light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. They can last hours or days, and significantly limit your daily routine. Some people have visual aura or changes in their vision which can include flashes of light, blind spots, seeing stars or zig zag patterns, and others can have problems with speech or feel pins and needles in arms or legs.


Secondary headaches are defined as being a symptom of another condition in your body. Treating the underlying condition can mitigate the headaches however these headaches can often respond to being treated the same as primary headaches.

Types of Secondary headaches include –

  • Sinus or Allergy headache
  • Hormone headache
  • Hypertension headache
  • Post-traumatic headache
  • Dehydration headache

Headaches can be a common part of life for some, however can also be rare and potentially very serious. Please always see immediate medical attention if you have any of the following with your headache –

  • Stiff neck
  • Rash
  • Extreme pain
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Fever
  • Paralysis
  • Visual loss

3 Treatment Options to get Relief from Headaches and Migraines

Different types of headaches are managed differently, and the treatment for some people, may not work for others. If you are experiencing headaches that you cannot manage at home, it is best to speak to your chosen health professional. It is a good idea to keep a headache journal in the weeks leading up to your consultation so you can record the duration, intensity, location and any triggers that you suspect.

  1. Physiotherapy – Physiotherapists utilise manual techniques in conjunction with soft tissue massage, exercises, relaxation and postural advice, to make a dramatic difference to the lives of headache sufferers. Some physios undertake further study in more specific techniques, such as the Watson Headache Approach, with outstanding and proven results. Physio is a great alternative to using high levels of medication, injections and considering surgery.
  2. Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a safe and effective drug-free treatment for many types of Headaches where there is evidence of positive effect. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile, single use, disposable needles into specific sites (Acupuncture points) and has direct effects on the Central Nervous System and spinal reflexes which in turn stimulates muscle relaxation. Acupuncturists may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, including acupressure, cupping, electro-stimulation and massage, in order to provide relief from Headache and associated muscle spasm.
  3. Massage – One of the most common headaches, the tension headache, responds extremely well to massage therapy. Tight muscles of the neck, jaw, shoulders and upper back all contribute to increased headache intensity. These muscles may be overloaded due to physical & psychological stress, certain postures (such as sitting) and following an injury such as whiplash, or concussion.

About the Watson Headache Approach

The Watson Headache Approach, was developed by an Australian physiotherapist Dr Dean Watson and is the only manual therapy approach that has been scientifically validated to have demonstrated an ability to change the underlying problem.

The Watson Headache Approach looks at the relevance between headache and migraine related disorders with dysfunction in the neck (upper cervical spine).

It is a hands-on approach based on physio manual techniques but framed in the context of neurological sensitivity. This means the emphasis is placed on sensitivity and symptom referral patterns. It does not take on more forceful ‘stretch and strengthen’ approaches, and does not involve clicking, cracking or manipulation techniques.

Treatment Options for Headaches and Migraines at SPHC

Health practitioners can vary in the way in which Headache patients are managed and here at Sandgate Physical Health Clinic we use an expert and multidisciplinary team approach to successfully treat our patients holistically.

Our Physiotherapists, Remedial Massage Therapists and Acupuncturist all have experience treating Headaches and can help in reducing your Headaches and improve your quality of life.

Many of our Physiotherapists have studied the Watson Headache approach which has been used in this clinic to help improve patients’ quality of life for over 10 years. Jack Clancy, Ann Chipa, Ellie Widdicombe and Nicole Peavey have all undertaken Watson Headache Approach courses and have received mentoring from one of Australia’s leading Watson Headache Practitioners over a long period.

Our Acupuncturist, Neil Whillans, combines Acupuncture with Remedial Massage techniques and his unique approach has been a saving grace for Headache sufferers around Sandgate for nearly 20 years.

Our skilled Remedial Massage Therapists, Nathan Dawes, Kay Cavanagh, and Sam Scammell, can tailor their treatments to best suit your needs – whether it’s a slow, gentle relaxation massage to melt away the stress, to a firmer massage targeting the muscle knots and trigger points associated with Headaches.

Please BOOK ONLINE, call us for more information on 3869 1099 or read about the various treatment options below –