The team at Access Group Physical Therapy focuses on improving the often debilitating pain that is caused by frequent headaches. We know that a recurring headache can put your life on hold. Many Americans suffer with chronic and severe headaches that require medical attention and the team at each of our three Twin Cities locations specializes in the treatment of various types of headaches, including tension headaches, migraine and cluster headaches and cranial neuralgias. For a full listing of our physical therapy services that we provide at each of our Twin Cities physical therapy locations, please give us a call at 651-330-2286 to see how we can be helpful.

Headaches are one of the most common physical complaints of all Americans next to back pain.  The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) share the following statistics about headaches:

  • As many as 45 million Americans have chronic severe headaches that can be disabling.
  • Headaches result in more than 8 million doctor visits a year.
  • 70% of Americans will suffer headache pain severe enough to seek medical attention.



Any pain that is experienced anywhere on your head is classified as a headache.  There are many different classifications of headaches, causes and treatment interventions.  There are effective treatment methods for each headache class but like an infection, knowing the cause determines the treatment plan.

70% of headaches in adults are tension headaches or muscle spasm headaches and stem from a neck or jaw problem, poor posture, fatigue, or stress.

There are four primary classifications of headaches:

  • Tension-type
  • Migraine and cluster
  • Secondary headaches from an underlying condition, such as fever, infection, etc.
  • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches

Types of Headaches

There are many types of headaches and there is an effective treatment for each type of headache. It is important when treating headaches to determine the type of headache, its root cause and developing an effective treatment plan to reduce frequency and intensity. Physical therapists play a pivotal role in the treatment of headaches by helping to determine the type of headache and managing pain from tension-type headaches.

Tension Headache

A tension headache is generally a mild to moderate head pain that is also the most common type of headache. Its causes are not well understood and it is often described as a feeling like a tight band around your head. Symptoms include a dull, aching head pain and tenderness in your scalp.


A migraine is described as a primary headache characterized by recurrent headaches that can range from moderate to severe. Typically, a migraine affects one half of the head and can last anywhere from 2 to 72 hours. Symptooms include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and smell.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are recurrent, severe headaches on one side of the head, typically around the eye. This is often accompanied by eye watering, nasal congestion or swelling around the eye on the affected side. These headaches are typically shorter in duration (less than three hours) but can occur in “clusters” which typically last for weeks or months and occasionally more than a year.

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital Neuralgia is a condition that is characterized by chronic pain in the lower neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. The primary symptom of occipital neuralgia is chronic headache and may include aching and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and radiates to the scalp. It also includes pain behind the eyes, sensitivity to light and sound, and pain when moving the neck.

Cervicogenic Headache

Cervicogenic headaches originate from disorders of the neck and is often caused by neck movement or sustained inappropriate head positioning. It is a common chronic and recurring headache that usually starts after neck movement and is accompanied by a reduced range of motion or the neck. It is often confused with a migraine, tension headache or other type of headache.


Headaches are common after experiencing a concussion and are often difficult to treat. Most patients who develop headaches after a concussion experience tension headaches or migraines. Because of their complexity and the implications for long-term related issues, concussions should always be screened by a physician or physical therapist and a plan of care needs to be put in place before an athlete or patient returns to activity. For additional information, please visit a comprehensive overview from the NIH on concussions.

Why is Physical Therapy Important?

Physical therapy is under-utilized in treating headaches.  Your physical therapist will complete a full assessment and work with you to develop a treatment plan to resolve the underlying problems that are causing your headache symptoms.

If you or someone you know is struggling with headaches, don’t wait.  Access Group Physical Therapy can be the FIRST and LAST stop in your recovery from recurring headaches. Please contact us today at 651-330-2286 or make an appointment online.