WA Headache Clinic uses the Watson Headache Approach (R) to address the underlying contributing causes to your headache and migraine. We now know that migraine is predominantly due to hypersensitivity of the brain and brainstem. In many cases the neck is involved in causing overactivity and sensitisation of the brainstem, which is one of the primary causes of chronic headache and migraine. Our approach looks to reducing the inputs in to the brainstem to reduce the contributing factors to the headache. By reducing the inputs from the common pathways from the upper neck into the brainstem and brain, we can reduce the sensitivity/overactivity of the brain and reduce the frequency, severity and duration of the symptoms.
We get many questions regarding these treatments, so have put the most common questions in an article for you:
Will this work for everyone with headache?
Everyone is different, and not all headaches and migraines will benefit from this treatment, but our findings (and the research findings of the Watson Headache Institute) are that approximately 80% of headache sufferers will get a reduction in the severity, frequency and duration of their headaches with treatment. We have had many cases of complete resolution of headaches.
How many treatments will I need?
Everyone is different, so this will differ between cases, however we’ve found most people will attend between 4-6 treatment sessions. Some people may then need further, intermittent maintenance treatment, and some won’t.
Does this work for vestibular migraine/Hormonal or menstrual migraine/cluster headache?
Yes is many cases all these types of migraine can benefit from our treatment. While many headache and migraine sufferers will experience different types of symptoms, in general these are all just symptoms of a common underlying problem - hypersensitivity of the brain and brainstem. Symptoms like dizziness (for example) are just another part of the sensitisation of the lower brain.
(If we google “Watson Headache” and Hormonal migraine, vestibular migraine, etc there are articles and videos Dean Watson has produced showing how these can benefit with this treatment. We can always forward links to these to the prospective patient if they want more information)
Will I have to keep coming forever?
Generally no. Usually we find patients will attend on average 4-6 sessions. Some people may need further maintenance sessions and some won’t.
If our headache physiotherapists don’t believe you will benefit from the treatment, they won’t keep treating you. In most cases you should see definite improvements within 2-3 sessions.
Does it involve needles/drugs/”cracking”?
No, the Watson Headache approach is non–invasive, drug free and involves gentle manual therapy only. There is no manipulation or cracking involved.
Can you treat children with headache/migraine?
Yes, but as above not everyone will benefit or is appropriate for this type of treatment.
How is this different to what my physio/chiro/massage therapist does?
The Watson Headache Approach is a novel, evidence-based treatment approach which is directed at reducing overactivity and sensitisation of the brainstem (nervous system) by modulating or reducing the inputs into the brainstem. It is not just a physical approach to the joints and muscles, but is also focussed on neuro-physiological change. While many other treatments also address the neck, the rigorous training and research backed approach to this treatment sets it apart.
How long are the sessions?
The initial session with our Headache Physiotherapists is up to 60 minutes duration. This includes a comprehansive screening for other causes of headache, a full assessment and treatment. Any subsequent treatment sessions are up to 45 minutes.
Will this work for me?
Our own data and the research from the Watson Headache Institute shows that approximately 80% of chronic headache and migraine sufferers will get improvements in the severity, frequency and duration of their headache symptoms; and a significant number have had full resolution. We see (and talk to) many headache sufferers who feel like they are on a merry-go-round of medications, specialists and trials of other treatments. This is obviously very frustrating and many people are understandably cautious of trying another treatment approach. Our best advice is - if you are struggling with Migraine or headache and you aren't entirely happy with your current treatment, you really have nothing to lose. If, after your initial assessment, the Headache Physios don't believe you will benefit from treatment with us then we won't treat you. Compared to the cost of drugs, specialists, botox injections, etc, etc, if these treatments can provide you with relief and reductions in the frequency, duration and severity of your headaches it could significantly improve your quality of life.