Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Kim Jackson, Fasuba Ayobami, Jo Etherton and Evan Thomas


The most recognised classification for headache is from the International Headache Society[1]. The 3rd edition of International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD) is an in-depth hierarchical classification of headaches containing explicit diagnostic criteria for headache disorders. They classify headaches into primary, secondary, Painful cranial neuropathies, other facial pain and other headaches outlined below:

Primary Headaches[1]

Secondary Headaches[1]

  • Headache attributed to trauma or injury to the head and/or neck
  • Headache attributed to cranial and/or cervical vascular disorder
  • Headache attributed to non-vascular intracranial disorder
  • Headache attributed to a substance or its withdrawal
  • Headache attributed to infection
  • Headache attributed to disorder of homoeostasis
  • Headache or facial pain attributed to disorder of the cranium, neck, eyes, ears, nose, sinuses, teeth, mouth or other facial or cranial structure
  • Headache attributed to psychiatric disorder

Painful Cranial Neuropathies, Other Facial Pain and Other Headaches[1]

  • Painful lesions of the cranial nerves and other facial pain
  • Other headache disorders

Physical Therapy Management

It is the most commonly used non-pharmacologic treatment of TTH[2]. Cervical exercises, relaxation, massage, postural exercises, cranio-cervical techniques, thermotherapy, vertebral mobilization and stretching are effective in reducing TTH symptoms such as pain frequency and intensity. In the studies that have applied joint mobilization, cervical range of motion has improved. Other parameters such as quality of life, impact and pain disability and psychological aspects have improved with MT[3].


The International Headache Classification (ICHD-2)

WHO Factsheet on Headache Disorders

AHS Guidelines and Position Statements


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. (2018). Cephalalgia38(1), 1–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102417738202
  2. Chowdhury D. Tension type headache. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2012;15(Suppl 1):S83–S88. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.100023
  3. Espí-López GV, Arnal-Gómez A, Arbós-Berenguer T, González ÁA, Vicente-Herrero T. Effectiveness of Physical Therapy in Patients with Tension-type Headache: Literature Review. J Jpn Phys Ther Assoc. 2014;17(1):31–38. doi:10.1298/jjpta.17.31