Headaches & migraines: What really may be the cause and how to treat them.

Did you know that headaches and migraines can be treated successfully by a physiotherapist?

What causes headaches and how can they be treated?

Several factors can trigger a headache or migraine, such as stress, trauma, hormonal changes, degeneration, muscle tightness or other pathologies.

However, although every headache or migraine is different, the pain signals all pass through the upper cervical spine (upper neck) and via your brainstem – therefore, the majority of headaches can be treated successfully via the Watson headache approach which aims at identifying which of the upper 3 vertebrae (upper levels of your neck) are the source of your head pain and using a number of treatment techniques to reproduce and resolve your head pain.

There are over 300+ types of headaches – but lets start with 5 of the most common headaches we can treat;

1. Migraine

If you have ever experienced a “migraine” you know it is a very unpleasant experience. Migraine symptoms (to name a few) can range from throbbing head pain, dizziness, visual disturbances, auras, nausea &/or vomiting. Symptoms are often different for everyone, some even occur without head pain (often called “silent” migraines).

Frequency can be different for everyone, some having attacks weekly, monthly or some every few years. It is very common for migraine suffers to also have a different type of headache (for example, tension type headache) which has different symptoms to their normal migraine type pain/symptoms – this may be a daily headache, or a pre-curser to getting a migraine – or the aftermath of a migraine episode.

2. Tension Type Headache

Tension headaches are described as a band-like, compressing/tightening feeling around the head. They can last for hours, or be continuous for days – or even become a daily chronic headache. Some people link them to stress, fatigue or dehydration, although some tension headaches can also come on without any real provocation.

Tension headaches although often not as severe intensity as a “migraine”, for some can be very debilitating due to their constant, annoying and distracting nature.

3. Cervicogenic headache

A cervicogenic headache literally means “a headache that comes from the neck” – so basically, any of the above headaches technically fit into this criteria as well.

Cervicogenic headaches can be one sided or bilateral, or often swapping sides, they are usually associated with neck pain (but not always), and scans are usually clear. All these signs point that you neck is the likely cause of your headache.

4. Cluster Headache

A cluster headache is severe and debilitating. Cluster headaches are excruciating pain, usually around the eye region (but can be other parts of the face). A cluster attack can last anywhere from 15minutes to 3 hours, episodes can be as frequent as weeks or months/years.

People with these types of headaches have often had various treatments, medication/painkillers and often have been in hospital due to the severity of pain – but these are all just temporary fixes, and the cluster headache returns again at some point.

5. Hormonal Headache

Hormonal headaches are another gem that us lucky females can experience, which doesn’t affect males! A hormonal headache is a headache that always appears around the time of your monthly cycle, usually they begin a few days prior, but can be the day of, or a day or two into their cycle. These headaches often last at least a couple days, some being as “severe” as a migraine-like headache which may include nausea/vomiting symptoms or it may be more of a “tension-type” headache as we discussed above.

It’s easy to blame hormones for this – however, wouldn’t all women experience the same thing if that was the case?

To keep this simple – if you experience hormonal/menstrual headaches your neck and brainstem are receiving what would be normal changes in serotonin (which signals pass through your neck and lower brainstem) as abnormal input and the result is a headache.

How can these headaches be treated?

All of these types of headaches can be helped with a proper assessment and treatment of your neck via the Watson headache approach.

In your first assessment we are able to confirm whether your neck is the likely cause of your headache or not. The Watson Headache® Approach is the most reliable and likely treatment to work with any type of headache, and has been used successfully for many years.

This uses direct movement of your joints (of the upper neck) and reproduction and reduction of your head pain which aims to resolve your headache pain for good.

You can find out more about the Watson headache technique and how to book in to see me here


6 Patricks Road Arana Hills QLD 4054    |   3351 5639   |   0400 868 974   |   admin@aranahillsphysiotherapy.com



© 2020 Arana Hills Physiotherapy