Book a Free 15-Minute Telephone Consultation


Specialist headache treatment at our London clinic

Woman having osteopathic treatment for headache
We offer specialist headache treatment

Our Treatment for Headaches

At Holland Park Osteopaths we have helped many patients suffering with a variety of different types of headaches.

Headaches are the leading cause of pain world wide, with 90% of the world’s population suffering with them at one time or another. Most headaches are relatively mild in nature and resolve with simple changes such as reduced stress, improved hydration, or a good nights sleep. For some people headaches can become debilitating and longer term, and help is required to get a diagnosis and an effective treatment and management plan.

Do I need a referral from my doctor before seeing an osteopath for my headaches?

Osteopaths are primary health care professionals and as such are able to diagnose and treat a variety of headaches safely and effectively. There are however some symptoms for which you should seek medical attention, for example:

– if you have a persistent head ache following a trauma

– If you have a headache accompanied by fever and feeling unwell

– If you are over 50 and this is a new or unfamiliar headache

– If you have new headache accompanied by changes in balance, sight, hearing, or bowel or bladder function

If you have sudden onset worst headache ever, or a headache accompanied by loss of body functions, sensory changes or changes in consciousness, call an ambulance.

With these rare exceptions aside, we are able to diagnose and treat a wide range of headache disorders using a combination of hands on therapy, and exercise and lifestyle advice to create an effective treatment programme and putting you in control of your symptoms.

In some cases you may need referral for further investigation or possible medication to best control symptoms, your Osteopath will be able to identify this and help you get the referral and help that you need to ensure you get the most effective treatment. 

Doctor with headache patient
Your osteopath will refer you to a doctor if required
Therapist examining man's neck
There are many different types of headache

What Type of Headache Do I Have?

The International Classification of Headaches Disorders (ICHD 4) lists over 300 different types of headaches. Whilst we will not be quite as specific as that, we can assess and diagnose what type of headache you have in order to design an effective treatment programme with you; or to get you any referral or specialist support that you might need.

The types of headaches we see and help people with most commonly are:

  • Tension type headache

  • Migraine headache

  • Cervicogenic headache

  • Medication overuse headache

What Is a Tension Headache?

Tension type headache are the most common form of headaches and generally what most people think of as a “normal headache”. Symptoms are often felt as a tight band around the head.

If you experience tension type headache for more than fifteen days a month, for over three months in a row, then this is classed as chronic tension type headaches.

Despite being the most common form of headache, tension type headaches are one of the most poorly defined and understood. It was previously though that muscular tension around the head and neck was the key causative factor in these types of headaches. We now know that it is just one of many potential contributing factors; which can also include: stress, fatigue, reduced quality or quantity of sleep, repeated or prolonged postures, dehydration, under or over exercise, over consumption of alcohol sugar and / or caffeine, as well as genetics can all play a role.

Woman experiencing tension headache
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache

Headache Treatment in Holland Park

We offer specialist treatment for headaches at our clinic in Holland Park, easily accessible from Notting Hill, Shepherd’s Bush, Ladbroke Grove and surrounding areas.

Booking is quick and simple using the booking system below. For very short notice appointments, you can also try us on 07958070680.

Woman having physical therapy for headache
Manual therapy can release tension around the neck and head

Osteopathy for Tension Headaches

Hands on manual therapy can be used to reduce tension around the muscles of the neck shoulders and head.  Manual therapy and acupuncture also work to reduce sensitivity of structures around the head and neck through pain inhibiting pathways and the release of chemical mediators to help reduce pain in the local area, as well as more globally through interactions in the central nervous system.

Your osteopath will be able to assess to what extent posture and movements are a contributing factor and work with you to make small but helpful adjustments here as needed. Your osteopath will also be able to assess and work with you on other areas of general health and lifestyle factors to help you to further reduce symptoms, and improve health and wellbeing.

What Is a Migrane?

Migraines are characterized by some, or all of the following criteria:

  • Lasting 4-72 hours

  • Throbbing in nature

  • Usually occurring on one side only (but 25% of migraines are bilateral)

  • Nausea

  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound

  • Symptoms made worse by, or causing the cessation of, movement

Migraines can occur with aura, where people experience visual or sensory changes at the onset of the attack.

Some of the symptoms of migraine can mimic other conditions; as such it is important to get an accurate diagnosis.

Man suffering from migraine
Migraines are characterised by various criteria
Osteopath treating young woman's neck
Osteopathy can help to prevent migraines

Osteopathy for Migranes

Your Osteopath will in most cases be able to make this diagnosis. In some cases, where there are atypical symptoms that mimic other health conditions, your osteopath will need to coordinate with your GP to get any investigations done as necessary.

Generally speaking osteopathy for migraines is about management and prevention. It usually not effective in acute stages of a migraine attack, but can be very beneficial as a form of prevention and management.

Migraines often present with neck pain. There is some dispute as to whether the neck pain causes the migraine or visa versa. In general evidence seems to point more to the latter, however some patients report treatment of neck pain and restrictions as being beneficial in managing their migraines.

Treatment of migraines can include manual therapy to reduce tension, improve movement and reduce sensitivity in the nervous system. Acupuncture and exercise have also both been shown to be helpful in the treatment of migraines and your osteopath can integrate these into your treatment programme, as well as general health and lifestyle changes which can play and important role in the management of migraines.

It is worth noting that medication can be extremely effective in helping migraine sufferers. Whilst your osteopath is working with you through manual therapy exercise and healthy lifestyle changes to bring about natural results and put you back in control of your symptoms, it is also advisable to get prescription medication to help further control your symptoms. Your Osteopath can coordinate with your GP in order to help you get any medication you made need or benefit from.

What Is a Cervicogenic Headache?

Cervicogenic headaches are headaches caused from irritation of structures in the upper part of the neck. Discs, joints or muscles can become inflamed and or irritated and refer pain into the head causing headaches. These types of headaches can also present with other symptoms such as reduced and painful neck movements, shoulder pain, eye pain and / or dizziness.

Whilst the structure in the neck can be identified as direct cause of this type of headache, pain levels and frequency of episodes can be significantly affected by lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of sleep and under or over exercise.

Man pinching nose with headache
Cervicogenic headaches often cause pain elsewhere

Headache Treatment in Holland Park

We offer specialist treatment for headaches at our clinic in Holland Park, easily accessible from Notting Hill, Shepherd’s Bush, Ladbroke Grove and surrounding areas.

Booking is quick and simple using the booking system below. For very short notice appointments, you can also try us on 07958070680.

Manual therapist treating woman's neck
Manual therapy can release stress in the neck

Osteopathy for Cervicogenic Headaches

Your Osteopath will be able to assess your headaches, and the movement and sensitivity of the joints, muscles and connective tissues in the upper part of your neck in order to diagnose and develop a treatment plan.

Research has shown that manual therapy such and joint mobilisation and soft tissue massage, combined with specific exercises are effective in treating cervicogenic headaches. Manual therapy and acupuncture can be used to desensitize the muscles and joints around the top of the neck, mobilisation and manipulations may be useful in improving range of motions, reducing muscle spasm and creating the release of hormones / chemical modulators to reduce tension and pain both in the local area and in the nervous system as a whole.

As well as the working on your neck, your osteopath may work on other areas of the body to reduce stresses placed on the neck, and work with you on lifestyle and exercise factors to improve overall health and reduce chances of future headaches and pain episodes.

What Is a Medication Overuse Headache?

If you are taking medication regularly for your headache and it seems to have become less effective then there is a good chance that you may have developed medication overuse headaches.

Regular use of medication can lead to changes in the body’s natural pain inhibiting systems, which over time causes a worsening of headache symptoms. These headaches are actually rather common, but often do not get diagnosed leading to prolonged suffering. Your Osteopath will be able to identify whether you have, or are at risk of developing Medication Overuse headaches, and provide support and treatment to help your recovery.

Pain medication bottle
Overuse of pain medication can worsen headaches
Physical therapist discussing with patient
Your osteopath can help you reduce painkiller usage

Osteopathy for Medication Overuse Headaches

If you have developed medication overuse headaches then it is important for your Osteopath to work with you along side your GP or consultant so that they may advise and guide your tapering off of the medication. During this time your osteopath will further support you through the use of exercise, manual therapy to relieve symptoms, and exercise and lifestyle advice to help your body to re-establish it’s normal pain inhibiting functions and bring about the best results.


Headaches are generally multifactorial in nature and require a whole person approach. Whilst your osteopath will primarily provide you with manual therapy, we also help you through advice on exercise, breathing techniques, and lifestyle changes and advice to help you get the best results. We are also happy and keen to coordinate with other health care practitioners to make sure you get the best and most effective care, and best results possible.

Smiling older woman
We aim to provide lasting results
Osteopath Gavin Smith performing osteopathy at Holland Park Osteopathic clinic

About The Author

Gavin Smith MSc is an experienced Osteopath, Clinical Director of the Holland Park Osteopathic Practice, and lecturer and Clinical Supervisor at the London School of Osteopathy. He has worked with some of the UK’s top martial artists and sprinters, and also has an extensive background as a sports therapist and exercise coach.

Book Appointment

Booking is quick and simple using the booking system below. For very short notice appointments, you can also try us on 07958070680.