There are many types of headache and migraine.
In our previous blog on headaches we looked at how different headaches and migraines share common features that can be treated successfully.
It’s been estimated that there are around 300 different “types” of headache or migraine. This often leads to confusion about how to treat them and how responsive they are to physiotherapy intervention. If you are a headache or migraine sufferer you know how frustrating this can be, so lets clear up some common misconceptions and look at how we can change your situation.
I have been diagnosed with headache / migraine and been told there is nothing I can do about it.
In the upper part of your neck you we have 3 segments that influence headaches and migraines:
C1/C0 : Head sits on top of the neck and its movement is a nodding action of the skull on the neck . Like a golf ball spinning on the tee.
C1/2: The next joint gives us the most rotation of our neck, allowing us to turn our head.
C2/3: This segment is also involved in the turning action of the head and also bending the neck left to right
Lying deep to these segments is part of the nervous system referred to as the brainstem. You can think of this structure along with the upper neck as part of a common “central hub“ for headaches and migraines.
Migraines and headaches often share common features.
Headaches and migraines can often involve the same sensitizing structures which pass through the brainstem and upper cervical (neck) joints. The combination of these structures becoming sensitized is generally a cause of migraine or headache pain.
Despite the number of different types of headache and migraine the good news is that they can share this common sensitized “hub” has been shown to respond well to specific physiotherapy techniques.
We can treat migraines and headaches targeting the upper neck.
By using a method that is designed to figure out which cervical(neck) joint(s) are influencing your headache or migraine this allows us to implement a treatment program to address these sensitized structures helping to resolve your problem. This method is referred to as the Watson headache treatment protocol.
Watson headache treatment has found to be successful in approximately 80% of headache and migraine patients and we have seen some amazing results even with long-term migraine sufferers.
Treating my neck hasn’t helped my headaches or migraine before why should it work now.
There are many different types of treatment for headaches. The majority all involve some form of treatment of the neck – whether it’s physiotherapy, chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncture, etc.
Most of these focus only on the joint related aspect of the headache but not the nervous system involvement.
Other treatment techniques of treating the neck can be effective for some, but if the overall system and brainstem is still overly sensitized you will still get headaches
So does it matter if its a headache or a migraine then ?
Not really. If you have a headache or migraine it may be a result of the upper neck segments getting stiff and sensitive resulting in your symptoms. Alternatively these upper neck segments may get painful due to increased sensitivity of the brainstem or headache hub which in turn cause your symptoms.
Regardless of which came first treating the upper neck region can reduce your pain by reducing the nervous system sensitivity and increasing movement at the joints.
What’s different about how we approach headaches is that treatment targets both the joint related symptoms and the nervous system symptoms helping “calm down” your headache or migraine.
This is why Watson Headache is different and also why it is such an effective treatment. It will address the cause of your headaches as well as addressing your neck dysfunction.
I have had headaches my whole life it will probably take a long time to see any results.
Just because you have had headaches and migraines for 20 years, doesn’t mean we can’t change it !
No matter how chronic the issue if you haven’t been assessed to determine what’s happening at the upper neck and associated nervous system then there is always the possibility of getting some quick wins.
We aim to get some noticeable change in symptoms within 4-5 treatments. Usually we can see we results in 70-80% of sufferers in this time period.
Of course for some the treatment path can be longer, but as long as we have a reduction of symptoms treatment is often continued until the client is having no migraines or headache symptoms.
For example, for one client she had a 20-30 year history of headaches and migraines every week/fortnight, after her first ever session with Watson Headache approach she has not experienced a migraine since
My headaches/migraines are hormonal so physiotherapy won’t work
A menstrual migraine is a specific type of migraine which times with your menstrual cycle, it can fall either 2 days prior to the start of your cycle, or during the first 3 days – consistently each month.
It has the do with the rise and fall of oestrogen and serotonin levels during your cycle, these hormonal changes are normal but when combined with an already sensitized brain stem a migraine can occur.
By desensitizing the brainstem and upper neck region the changes in hormone levels will no longer create your hormonal headache. It is for that reason that the Watson Headache approach can reduce or resolve your monthly hormonally driven migraines.
Constant headaches or migraines do not mean there is something serious like a tumour.
Many people suffer from chronic headaches for various reasons. Chances of your headache coming from a tumor or other sinister pathology is extremely rare.
Part of your initial assessment we always ask a number of questions about the history and features of your headache or migraine. These questions are particularly designed to pick up anything unusual which may need to be investigated further.
As your treatment involves reproduction and reduction of your headache pain, it is possible that if there is no change after 4-5 sessions, we can discuss further intervention or investigation if we think it’s appropriate for you.
In summary physiotherapy and the Watson technique can resolve your headaches or migraine.
If you suffer, or know some one who suffers from headaches please feel free to pass on this information to them. Alternatively if you’d like to get started on treating your headache , book in to see me here