Headaches are extremely common. Most people will suffer from a headache at some point in their lives.  And they can result in pain in the head, neck and face. 

There are over 300 different types of headaches described in medical literature, including:

  • Migraine
  • Tension Headaches
  • Silent Headaches
  • Menstrual Headaches
  • Cervicogenic Headaches and these can be split into two categories:
    • Primary headaches – “just come on” headaches, these headaches aren’t caused by an injury or other illness.
    • Secondary headaches – these headaches are caused by an underlying pathological or health condition. 

What to look out for?

Most headaches aren’t serious, however there are some important “Red Flags” that we as Osteopaths look out for:

  • A new headache as an adult over 40 years of age
  • Abrupt onset of a headache that is unusually severe
  • A “different” headache from previous ones
  • Progressive headache over days or weeks
  • Headache associated with nausea and vomiting or fever that can’t be explained by another illness or condition, for example the flu.

What causes a Headache?

There has been a huge amount of research over the years about the causes of headaches.

More recently, studies have concluded that a large percentage of headaches are caused by a dysfunction in the neck. 

The head and face share some neurological structures with the upper 3 segments in your neck, therefore they have a great effect on each other.  Dysfunction or a problem in one will influence the other. 

What can your osteopath do?

If you suffer from headaches seeing an Osteopath may help.

During an osteopathic session we will take a detailed history to rule out the nasty red flags.  We also will perform a thorough examination including testing and stressing structures within the neck.

Osteopathic treatment aims to address any problems in the neck, therefore decreasing the intensity or frequency of the headaches.  As Osteopaths we may also recommend some exercises and advise you on strategies to decrease the likelihood of headaches. 

Thanks for reading along!


Watson, Dean (2016) Cervical Afferents and Primary Headache: An investigation of the potential role of cervical nociceptors in sensitising the trigemino-cervical nucleus in primary headache. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

Dr Shane Peace
Latest posts by Dr Shane Peace (see all)