Headache and Pain on A Current Affair

Headache and Pain on A Current Affair

Yes, that was Chris from The Headache and Pain Management Centre on A Current Affair, giving comment on the statistics regarding the sheer number of headache and migraine sufferers. Headache and migraine is a massive economic problem and one that for a long time hasn’t had a lot of answers with respect to causes, and effective treatments.

The story on the patient involved on A Current Affair is excellent in that she was able to obtain relief from her migraines, and we could not be happier for her and her family. We know first hand from the experiences in my clinic how patients’ lives can change when a correct diagnosis is made and then treatment is tailored for the individual patient.  Surgery is a drastic measure, no doubt, but we know first-hand the lengths that sufferers will go to in order to obtain relief from the pain!

For those who are looking for solutions, you’ve come to a good place to start for accurate, up-to-date information  – as our clinic prides itself on finding the right solution to your headache or migraine problem.

For all the headache and migraine sufferers out there, it is important to know the science behind how a headache works – it is caused by a sensitisation of the part of the brain that the head pain signals pass through, regardless of diagnosis.  The cause of that sensitisation is, in a majority of cases, stiffness of the joints in the top of the neck, not necessarily the arteries in your scalp.  The Australian research published by Dean Watson in the past 8 months shows that treatment of the upper neck, in a very specific way, desensitises the head pain area of your brain.  Chris is a member of the Watson Headache Institute teaching staff, and teaches these techniques to other physiotherapists nationwide.

We strongly recommend that the upper necks of headache and migraine sufferers are thoroughly assessed and treated, before undergoing expensive surgical techniques, so that all avenues are considered before going under the knife.  Any sufferer of headache or migraine conditions are encouraged to contact us if you want to know more about what we do at our clinic.  We love helping people.

We would like to thank A Current Affair, and journalist Jesse Grayson, for approaching us for comment so we could fill them in on the latest research into headache and migraine treatments – we are sure that they would have learnt a thing or two during our conversation and we hope that our (albeit small!) exposure tonight will be of benefit to headache and migraine sufferers nationwide.

Until next time,
The Headache and Pain Management Centre Staff

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Diagnostic Questionnaire launched on Brisbane Headache

The two biggest things your health professional fails to consider when it comes to your lower back pain

When patients come in to see us, and they have been elsewhere, inevitably they will tell us one of a number of things:

  • I’ve had this low back pain for years and it’s not getting any better
  • I am doing an exercise program but I’ve reached a plateau – and if I stop doing the exercises it goes back to square one
  • I’ve had all the scans and there isn’t anything major – but the pain just isn’t improving
  • I’ve done all of my “core” stability exercises and it isn’t helping.

…sometimes a combination, and sometimes more than that!

I guess where the advantage lies when treating patients in this condition is that they have normally seen pretty competent health professionals – which means by the time they get to us – we know what you have tried.  It means that we really don’t need to go over old ground, most of the time. 

Usually, there are two main things that other health professionals don’t adequately consider when it comes to lower back pain – and I can summarise it in a very simple phrase:

“Tight at the front, weak at the back”

Fail No. 1 – Tight at the front

Most health professionals, when looking at back pain, fail to consider the key muscle which is the driver for most back pain.  It is a muscle that is actually deeper than your core abdominal muscles – it is called the Psoas.

Psoas attaches into the front of 5 vertebrae of your spine, crosses underneath your bowels and then attaches into the front of your hip.  It is the only muscle that crosses the centre of gravity, and is incredibly important acting as a mover and stabiliser of your back and pelvis. 

If your psoas muscles are tight, it can cause:

  • Pain referral into your lower back
  • Back stiffness in the morning when you wake up
  • Other muscles up into your shoulders and down your hips and legs to compensate, causing pain in those areas as well.

It is extremely important not only to get this muscle assessed properly, but also to have it treated gently and properly, as there are many important vessels and organs that run around and through it.

Fail No. 2 – Weak at the back

It is a fact that when people have lower back pain, the deepest layer muscles in your lower back shrink.  These are called the multifidus muscles. 

The reasons for this shrinking are a little complex (and I can address this in a later blog) – but the important thing is that those deep back muscles need to be strengthened in order for them to grow back to a size your body needs to support your weight, and offset the tightness of psoas.

If your deep back muscles are weak, it can cause:

  • Too much fatigue in your back – which means a “tight” feeling towards the end of the day and after things like housework or sport
  • Strength exercises for your glutes and “core” are ineffective, because you need the multifidus muscle working first before you can activate anything else
  • Ongoing low back pain because the muscles are forever in a protective mode, which doesn’t allow the movement you need to get things going again.

What is needed to correct these problems?

Simply two things:

  • A full assessment of the psoas muscles to see if they are contributing to your posture or pain picture
  • An accurate strength test for your multifidus muscles to specify exactly how strong your back is, and an exercise program to counter any deficits.

We have put together some more resources on our website to explain this more… and treating backs in this very simple, logical way has helped people from elite athletes to people who are out of work and had failed back surgery. 

Find out more here:

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Cluster Headache segment on Channel 10 – The Project

Cluster Headache segment on Channel 10 – The Project

Hello all,

It was a very confronting segment tonight on Channel 10’s “The Project” which inspired me to write this short article.   Those with Cluster Headaches know that this pain is extremely severe, debilitating and affects not only the sufferers but takes quite a massive toll on families, friends, workers and others around them.  Typically it is characterised by stabbing pain on one side of the head, which lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), which can come on as quickly as it can disappear – and often have periods of remission.  Living life in this way is incredibly stressful for sufferers and their loved ones, as although attacks can happen in a predictable manner, often it can happen seemingly at random also.

I have seen over 30 cases of this present to the clinic here in the last 12 months.  Some have had attacks in the waiting room before their first appointment so I have seen it happen first hand!  The research into all types of headache (including Cluster Headache), and also our clinical experience, is showing that regardless of diagnosis or severity of pain, the pain signal itself begins in a place in the lower brainstem called the trigeminocervical nucleus.  This signal is in most cases activated by one or more joints in the top of the neck, and there have been quite amazing improvements made to Cluster Headache sufferers by treating the upper neck in a targeted, specific way.

What does this all mean for you reading this?  Now I understand if this next statement provokes skepticism out there, and due to legislative restrictions we are unable to publish testimonials on this website to back this up (though some very kind people have posted to third party sites about their positive experiences!)…

I have successfully treated many Cluster Headache sufferers by treating the upper cervical spine.  My most recent case was this week.  The key to diagnosis is locating the joint in the upper neck (by pushing on it) that refers the familiar pain of headache, sustaining digital pressure on that particular joint, and allowing the headache to decrease completely as the pressure is sustained.  If this occurs, improvement should happen quickly.  If it doesn’t, then we refer onto someone else for assessment.

Anyone who suffers Cluster Headaches, or anyone who knows somebody who lives with Cluster Headaches, are encouraged to touch base with me where I am more than happy to further explain in detail how this works, and answer questions about how I could be able to help them.  I am not here to trick anybody or offer false hope, because sufferers have generally had plenty of that already in their journeys – I am only speaking from my own experiences with treating Cluster Headaches, and on behalf of those who I have treated who have encouraged me to increase awareness of what it is that we do here at Brisbane Headache Centre.

I would like to thank Channel 10 and The Project for broadcasting this story to make the wider community aware of this unbelievably severe condition.  What needs to be done now is to gain awareness into the exact mechanisms of how Cluster Headaches happen, have increasing research to provide more and more evidence so that this condition is recognised and treated much sooner, and to increase awareness of the role of the upper neck in the development of headache in sufferers.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Chris Fawcett – Director, Brisbane Headache Centre
1300 16 55 33  or  (07) 3012 6076

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