Watson Headache® Approach
Identifying the Role of the Neck in Headache and Migraine
For Individuals Living With 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.
Upper Cervical Spine
Neuro anatomy indicates that the direct musculoskeletal cause of Headache or Migraine will be dysfunction of one of the top three spinal joints (upper cervical spine). The Watson Headache® Approach is a manual (‘hands-on’) therapy system designed to identify and manage relevant disorders in the upper cervical spine.
It is important to emphasise that the Watson Headache® Approach does not involve high velocity thrust (i.e. cracking) techniques.
Dr Watson has identified a previously unrecognised abnormal musculoskeletal pattern:
- Misbehavior comprising a subtle asymmetrical distribution of pressure between the 2nd and 3rd vertebrae triggering the muscle spasm, which in turn...
- stresses one or more stiff joints in the upper neck, which then...
- refers pain into the head and is responsible for sensitisation the Brainstem.
The Watson Headache® Approach is the only manual cervical approach to recognise this. Other manual therapy treatments are often directed at the spasm, and not the cause. This explains why previous neck treatments have been ineffective, or, provide temporary relief only. Often just treating (successfully) the trigger for the muscle spasm provides significant relief. As previously mentioned, referral of head pain occurs when the involved (stiff) joint is stressed by muscle spasm… but which joint?
Is the Neck Relevant?
The Approach involves a series of original techniques (unique to the Watson Headache® Approach), which applied by slow, smooth, sustained thumb pressure, selectively examine each of the upper three spinal joints through their known range of movements. If a disorder (usually stiffness) of one or more of these joints is responsible for Headache or Migraine, the usual head pain is reproduced – temporarily – it goes immediately thumb pressure is released.
However, relevancy of the joint disorder in Headache or Migraine is only confirmed if, when the examination technique is sustained, the reproduced head pain lessens. The time taken varies, and whist there are exceptions, ranges between 30 to 90 seconds. By repeating and sustaining the examination technique, the head pain lessens, eases more quickly, and, eventually, the joint, when stressed or moved no longer refers pain into the head.
Reproduction and Resolution
In this way, the spinal joint referring pain to the head can be identified precisely; the Watson Headache® Approach does not involve guesswork. The ‘Reproduction and Resolution’ of typical head pain is a distinguishing characteristic of, and is fundamental to, the Watson Headache® Approach.
Furthermore, recent ground breaking (published) research by Dr Watson PhD, has shown that ‘Reproduction and Resolution’ of typical head pain in migraine patients DE sensitises the Brainstem (it is widely recognised that the underlying disorder in Headache and Migraine is a sensitised Brainstem). The Watson Headache® Approach is the only cervical manual therapy shown scientifically to diminish the underlying disorder in Migraine.
The Approach has evolved from Dean Watson’s 24000 hours of clinical experience,
with over 8000 Headache and Migraine patients.