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The Watson Headache Approach, developed by Australian physiotherapist Dr Dean Watson, (of the Watson Headache Institute) offers a specialised method for diagnosing and managing headache and migraine symptoms, focusing on dysfunction within the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This approach to treating headaches and migraines is based on physiotherapy manual techniques and neurological sensitivity.


Through thorough assessments, including manual examination techniques, practitioners identify specific issues contributing to head pain in migraine sufferers. This approach emphasises collaboration among healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists and physicians, to provide comprehensive care tailored to each individual’s needs.

Once a diagnosis is established, treatment is customised to address the identified dysfunction. This may include physiotherapy manual techniques like joint mobilisation, soft tissue work, tailored exercise programmes and other advanced manual therapy techniques.

Headache and migraine patients are educated about the connection between upper cervical spine issues and their migraine/headache symptoms, empowering them with strategies for self-management and prevention, such as postural adjustments and stress management techniques. Overall, the Watson Headache Approach provides a structured, evidence-based framework aimed at long-term relief and improved quality of life for those suffering from primary headaches like migraines.

 

How does this treatment approach help diagnose a headache or migraine condition?

The Watson Headache Approach aids in diagnosing migraine and headache conditions by conducting a thorough assessment of the top three spinal segments in the upper cervical spine, focusing on joint mobility, muscle tension, and neurological function.

This initial assessment helps identify any dysfunction or abnormalities that may contribute to headache symptoms. By correlating assessment findings with reported symptoms, practitioners can formulate a specific diagnosis, distinguishing headaches stemming from cervical spine issues from those caused by other factors.

This structured approach ensures a targeted and personalised treatment plan to address the underlying disorder and root cause of headache and migraine conditions and improve the individual’s patient’s life.

Which conditions can the Watson Headache Approach treat?

Through tailored treatment strategies, the Watson Headache Approach aims to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for headache and migraine attack sufferers. Conditions that can be effectively addressed using the Watson Headache Approach include but are not limited to:

Primary headache types such as tension headache and cluster headache

Treatment focuses on addressing underlying cervical spine dysfunction to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence of primary headache types like cluster headaches and tension headaches.

Chronic whiplash-associated headache

Manual therapy techniques and targeted exercises may help reduce headache frequency and intensity in individuals with chronic whiplash-related symptoms.

Cervicogenic headache

By targeting dysfunction in the cervical spine, the Watson Headache Approach aims to alleviate symptoms of cervicogenic headaches which originate from referred neck pain.

Vestibular migraine

Comprehensive treatment strategies may include manual therapy, education on triggers, and self-management techniques to improve symptoms and quality of life.

Menstrual migraine

The Watson Headache Approach offers tailored interventions to manage menstrual-related migraine symptoms, such as education on hormonal influences and strategies for symptom management during menstrual cycles.

How are treatments carried out in a Watson Headache Clinic?

Treatment using the Watson Headache Approach typically involves a combination of manual therapy techniques, education, and self-management strategies. Here’s an overview of how treatment is carried out by a Watson Headache Certified practitioner:

Manual Therapy

Treatment often begins with hands-on techniques aimed at addressing dysfunction within the upper cervical spine. This may include joint mobilisation to improve joint mobility, soft tissue techniques to release muscle tension, and specific exercises to enhance strength and stability.

Education

Patients are educated about the relationship between upper cervical spine dysfunction and headache symptoms. They learn about potential triggers, postural habits, and stress management techniques that may contribute to their headaches. Understanding these factors empowers patients to take an active role in managing their condition.

Self-Management Strategies

Patients are provided with strategies to manage and prevent headaches on their own. This may include advice on ergonomic modifications, relaxation techniques, and exercises to improve posture and reduce muscle tension. By incorporating these strategies into their daily routine, patients can better control their symptoms and minimise the impact of headaches on their lives.

Follow-Up and Monitoring

Regular follow-up appointments allow practitioners to monitor progress, adjust treatment as needed, and provide ongoing support to patients. This ensures that treatment remains tailored to the individual’s changing needs and goals.

Overall, the Watson Headache Approach offers a holistic and patient-centred approach to headache management, focusing on addressing the underlying causes of recurring headaches and empowering patients to actively participate in their treatment and recovery.

Watson Headache Clinic Brisbane

Do you have a migraine or headache condition that you can’t get rid of, no matter how many treatments and medication types you’ve tried? Unfortunately most headache and migraine sufferers live with a condition that is misdiagnosed and mistreated. 

The focus of treatment at our clinic is to first identify the root cause of your condition. Once we have determined whether the underlying disorder is related to an overly sensitised brainstem, our main focus is desensitising the brain stem to help settle the neurological disturbances caused by this chemical imbalance.

Once treatment commences, we expect a significant improvement to occur rapidly in 90% of our patients with headache and migraine conditions within the first 5 treatment consultations.

To get to the bottom of your condition, its root cause, and the best way to get your pain-free life back on track, book your initial consultation with Brisbane Headache & Migraine Clinic today. 

Contact us on 1800 HEADACHE to book an appointment with an experienced clinician. 

Imagine a life free of severe headaches and frustration!

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