Watson Headache® Approach

Identifying The Role Of The Neck In Headache And Migraine

For Individuals Living With And Health Professionals Managing Headache And Migraine

Watson Headache® Approach Is A Sequence Of Manual Therapy Techniques

And Innovative Clinical Reasoning, Identifying And Managing Relevant Neck Disorders Not Only In Cervicogenic Headache But Also In Primary Headache.

Specifically The Approach

Aims to identify relevancy of incoming information from the C1-3 spinal nerves to headache and migraine conditions, and also other symptoms potentially arising from the upper 3 spinal segments, for example dizziness or vertigo, cyclic vomiting, idiopathic eye pain etc. comprises a series of techniques, which, when applied in a systematic way, accurately identifies the upper cervical spinal segments responsible for symptoms of headache or migraine confirms relevancy when reproduction of symptoms (most commonly head pain) occurs, and then, as the examination technique is sustained, resolution of symptoms with its unique, fundamental and powerful feature i.e., ‘reproduction and resolution’ of typical head pain in migraineurs was the subject of recent research which demonstrated DE-sensitization of sensitized brainstems.

Note: the underlying disorder in headache and migraine is a ‘sensitized brainstem’ uses the same assessment techniques within unprecedented clinical reasoning to correct musculoskeletal to the involved segments responsible for symptoms of headache or migraine is recognized internationally (now practiced and taught in over 25 countries) and is unequaled in manual therapy approaches for headache and migraine conditions.

The Problem

Despite substantial research demonstrating that disorders of the upper neck can be responsible for the underlying cause of headache and migraine, the chances are (and unfortunately) the diagnosis has disregarded this possibility.

The Evidence

Current research has shown that temporary reproduction (and resolution) of usual head pain when examining structures of the upper neck, occurs in migraine and tension headache. This demonstrates upper cervical (neck) involvement.

A Solution

The reproduction of headache symptoms is considered essential to confirm upper cervical (neck) involvement in headache and migraine. Certainly if this occurs, one becomes extremely suspicious, but there is a more powerful indicator.

A Powerful Alternative To Ongoing Medication

Assessing The Role Of Cervical Afferents (Neck Input) In Primary Headache

Dr Dean Watson PhD, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist is a passionate advocate for the role of cervical disorders in primary headache.

This has led to a method of assessment and management known as the Watson Headache® Approach, which is now practiced in over 25 countries.

Realizing that for a skilled examination of the upper neck to become an accepted, routine course of action when investigating headache and migraine, Dean undertook a PhD research program.

This pioneering research investigating relevancy of upper neck disorders in migraine, demonstrated that skilful application of the Watson Headache® Approach positively affects the underlying disorder in migraine, a ‘sensitized brainstem’. It is essential that the Medical Model of Headache embrace the interaction between the upper neck and a ‘sensitized brainstem’. This will ensure those affected by headache or migraine are provided with an underestimated and powerful alternative to ongoing, and often increasing, medication.

Short Videos About The Watson Headache® Approach

What is the Watson Headache Approach and What Does This Mean for You and Your Wellbeing?
How Can I Tell if the Watson Headache Approach Could Help Me? discover the one feature that will tell you.
The Watson Headache Approach and the Medical Model of Headache. Click the play button to learn more.
Watson Headache Advocating for the Neck to be Routinely Assessed. Click the play button to discover how.

The Watson Headache® Approach Does Not Involve Guesswork

This Means That If You Are:


An individual living with headache or migraine you will know whether your neck is the cause before management commences.

Health Professional

A health professional managing headache or migraine you will have a specific sequence of manual therapy techniques underpinned by clinical reasoning and specific skills to identify as well as manage relevant neck disorders in headache and migraine.

Watson Headache® Approach

Recent research has shown that the Watson Headache® Approach significantly reduces the underlying and widely accepted disorder in primary headache conditions i.e. a ‘sensitized brainstem’.

This is not just about ‘cervicogenic headache’.

Underpinning our Approach is the importance of the upper cervical afferents in primary headache, recognition of a previously unrecognized clinical pattern, a series of innovative techniques, and the importance of ‘reproduction and resolution’ of typical symptoms.

With this protocol you will assess and manage headache and migraine safely and effectively.

Using current research, you will confidently answer questions in your clinical setting about the role of the neck and its relevance as a causative factor in headache and migraine.

What is the Watson Headache® Approach?

The Watson Headache® Approach is a manual, non-manipulative series of specific techniques used to assess the relevance of, and managing segmental (mis) behaviour/dysfunction of the C0-C3 segments, in headache and migraine conditions as well as any condition in which the potential underlying disorder is a sensitised lower brainstem/ trigemino cervical nucleus.

The Watson Headache® Approach utilises original techniques to selectively stress with slow (non-oscillatory) sustained thumb pressure, specific segments (within their expected range of movement), to ascertain relevance to headache and migraine.

This is achieved by reproduction and lessening of typical head pain and other associated (typically painless) symptoms as the technique is sustained.

This has been demonstrated scientifically to ameliorate the underlying disorder (a sensitised trigemino cervical nucleus) in headache and migraine.

The techniques are then used innovatively to address a previously (prior to the Watson Headache® Approach) unrecognised clinical pattern of musculoskeletal misbehaviour, addressing the reason for the misbehaviour, not the consequence (misbehaviour).

For You If Are You Living With Headache, Migraine or Related Conditions?
For You If You Are a Health Professional Managing Headache, Migraine, or Related Conditions?
For You If You Are Looking for a Watson Headache® Trained Practitioner?
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