The Headache and Pain Management Centre runs and owns a niche clinic, Brisbane Headache Centre, which treats only Headache and Migraine conditions, ensuring only the best possible treatment for headache and migraine sufferers.  There is an amazing amount of information that can be found at the website, including our diagnostic questionnaire, which tells you about what could be causing your head pain condition.  You will not be disappointed.

Below is an excerpt about the science of why a headache happens and what can be done to treat it.

Contact us if you have any questions or queries.

Headache and Migraine – the most accurate and up-to-date Science.

According to the World Health Organisation, headache disorders are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system.  However it is also one of the least understood.  The cutting-edge new research into headache, shows that the “vascular theory” of headache which is very commonly communicated to patients by health professionals is no longer totally relevant and should be considered in conjunction with all the available science into headache and migraine conditions.

In the past 10 years, the understanding of what causes a headache has significantly changed.  The research into headache and migraine conditions now shows that recurring headaches and migraines are caused by what is known as a sensitised trigemino-cervical nucleus.

Where to start – What actually is a headache?

Primary headache conditions are those that exist independently of any other medical condition. If you have been to GP or neurologist and nothing has been found on scans or other tests, this applies to you. Included under this umbrella is Migraine, Tension Headache and Cluster Headache, among others. These are the main conditions that we at The Headache and Pain Management Centre pride ourselves on treating effectively and quickly, but it applies to any head or face pain that is currently without a proper treatment plan.

The trigemino-cervical nucleus – the control centre that causes headache

The trigemino-cervical nucleus is a control centre in your brain that receives information from the following sources:

  • All the sensory input in your neck, head, face, top teeth, and jaw and some nerves that control eye movements and strain
  • The feeling of the blood vessels in the brain – ie too constricted or too dilated
  • Serotonin (a chemical that regulates the body’s response to stress, food, hormones)
  • A system called the DNIC (a system that controls pain eg: if you bang your hand with a hammer, all of a sudden your migraine isn’t as bad)

All four of the above information sources should all filter through that nucleus together, with each system working with and balancing each other out to help your brain stay in a state of neutral – ie no headache or migraine.

Commonly people state that their migraine/headache is triggered by any or all of the following:

  • Stress
  • Prolonged Sitting at computer
  • Neck movements
  • Driving a car
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Red and White Wine
  • Hunger
  • Dehydration
  • Sometimes just at random with no pattern.

However the question that needs to be asked is this – why is it that some people get migraines from stress, chocolates or hormone changes, but not others?  Not every woman gets migraines once a month, nor does every person who is stressed get a headache…

That’s great information about why headaches happen – how does it apply to me?

The answer to your headache/migraine condition all lies within that trigeminocervical nucleus.  It is now known that it is the sensitisation of that nucleus that causes migraines to happen.

The best way to explain this in simple terms is with an analogy.  Imagine a cup and a saucer.  If one drop of water hits the saucer, it represents a very small “niggly” headache. The more water on the saucer, the more severe it becomes… and if there is water all over the bench and all over the floor, you’re in agony!  Crippling head pain, maybe some nausea and dizziness, watery eyes… all you want to do is go into a dark room and stay and away and out of things.

A non-headache sufferer’s glass may only be only about 40% full.  It takes a lot to fill the glass up – you know the story – if you have too much to drink, a concussion, something very emotionally stressful, severe dehydration… it fills the glass right up but because a non-headache sufferer doesn’t suffer like you do, their brain can dry the water out quickly and they are back to normal.

However – a headache sufferer’s glass is much more full – maybe 90-95% full, or even completely full if you have headache constantly…  but it doesn’t end there!  Not only is the glass full, there is a dropper above the glass consistently dropping that glass up and over.  There is no rest.  When an attack comes, your body needs to dry out the water in order to keep functioning – which it can do with varying degrees of success; but for people with recurring headaches, it happens again, and again, and again.

What needs to be done to fix this problem?

Our clinicians at The Headache and Pain Management Centre want to find out what is “filling up your glass” – ie what is sensitising your nucleus.  The most common solution is to treat the top of your neck.  We do this using the ground-breaking Watson Headache Approach.   The techniques are very gentle and use mild sustained pressure to the neck in order to diagnose and treat headache and migraine conditions.  There is no “cracking” of the neck, and you are in total control of your treatment.  We use these techniques to treat headaches and migraines with a very high success rate.

Having attended both the Level 1 Foundation and Level 2 Consolidation Headache Courses Chris Fawcett has now attended the 4 day Watson Headache® Institute Level 3 Certification of Professional Competence in the Watson Headache® Approach – ‘The Role of CO-C3 Segmental Dysfunction in Primary Headache’. The course was held on  August 23-26 2013 in Sydney, Australia, and presented by Dean H Watson, Australian Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and founder of the Watson Headache® Approach, on behalf of the Watson Headache® Institute.

Nikki Rathbone attended the 3 day Watson Headache® Institute, Level 1 Foundation Headache Course titled “The Role of C1-C3 Cervical Afferents in Primary Headache”. The course was held in February 2012, in Sydney, Australia, and presented by Dean H Watson, Australian Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist. For further information, go to:

To find out more information or have an obligation-free discussion with one of our friendly staff, please contact our clinic on 1300 16 55 33, or simply use the contact form.

Many thanks to Dean Watson of the Watson Headache Institute for the material contained in this article.

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