Headaches / Vertigo

Our Physiotherapists have a deep understanding of how the musculoskeletal, nervous and vestibular system work to properly diagnose and assess the underlying cause of headaches, migraine and vertigo.


Did you know that headaches can often be caused by the cervical spine (neck)? Nerves that supply the head, from behind the eyes, up over the scalp to the back of the head, share the same junction in the spinal cord as the nerves from the upper neck structures such as the spinal joints, ligaments and muscles. The nerve messages then travel to the brain, however in many circumstances the brain cannot differentiate between these 2 areas because the message has come from the same place in the spinal cord. So, pain is felt in both. As pain in the head is less pleasant it often over rides the neck pain and it is not until a skilled Physiotherapist palpates the upper neck (often reproducing the same headache pain) that the patient will realise they have stiffness and tightness in the neck.

Our Physiotherapists will thoroughly assess your condition and work carefully on your upper neck using controlled mobilising (not manipulation or “cracking”) techniques, soft tissue massage, stretching, Dry Needling or Acupuncture to reduce tension in the soft tissues and thus reduce the compression on your joints that irritate the nerve endings causing a Headache.

Headaches are complex presentations and are not always the result of one single factor. Stress, eye strain, hydration, sleeping patterns and potentially even more serious medical conditions can cause headaches. If you are concerned, see your doctor. Otherwise we can help guide you and refer you on if deemed necessary.

Vertigo, dizziness and balance disorders

Vertigo is a type of dizziness and a sensation where the world feels like it is spinning around you, or swaying, or even feeling like it is going up and down. It is often related to changing your head position. It can result in difficulty with keeping your balance. Diagnosing the cause of the vertigo, dizziness or balance problem can be difficult.

Simon Kennedy has had thorough training by experts in the field in assessing and treating the most common types of Vertigo. The most common cause is a problem with the structures of the inner ear where 3 semicircular canals (vestibular apparatus) are situated and act as multi-planar “spirit levels” for balance. These canals have a viscous fluid in them and have nerves supplying them to sense and provide feedback to the brain and the rest of the body on our heads position in space.

BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) occurs where tiny crystallised calcium particles dislodge from their base below the semicircular canals and float up into the canals and disturb the sensors within these canals. Our brain then gets scrambled messages about how level our head is, which produces Vertigo. After a thorough assessment, specific treatment involving careful head positioning and movements (including the Epley Manoeuvre) can move the crystallised calcium particles out of the canals where they can be re-absorbed by the body and the vertigo resolves.

Vestibular Neuritis is another common cause and occurs is when there is a problem with the nerves supplying the semi-circular canals. Again, the brain gets scrambled messages about our heads position in space and vertigo results. Vestibular Neuritis often results in nausea and vomiting and can be very distressing for the person. Medical attention is recommended in the acute stage to manage the symptoms. Once the more acute symptoms have settled, and after our careful and thorough assessment, specific exercises can be given to train the brain to adapt to the damage in the nerve(s) of the inner ear. These can be very effective in speeding up the recovery of vertigo symptoms.

In some cases, there are other causes of vertigo that are less specific or more complicated. If we are unable to determine a clear cause and positive management strategy of your vertigo, dizziness or balance problem we will refer you on to your doctor.