About Headache and Migraine
When The Headache and Pain Management Centre opened for business in 2012, it was known as Brisbane Headache Centre. With the addition of staff, our future plans to expand outside of Brisbane, and our own patients wanting us to treat their other aches and pains as well as their headaches, our name changed to more accurately reflect what it is that we do.
However, treating headaches is still our top priority, because we will never shirk in providing only the best quality treatment for headache and migraine sufferers.
The Headache and Pain Management Centre is the longest running headache and migraine specific treatment clinic in Brisbane.
The most accurate and up-to-date headache and migraine science
According to the World Health Organisation, headache disorders are some of the most common disorders of the nervous system. However, they are also some of the least understood.
In the past 10 years, the understanding of what causes a headache has significantly changed. 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.
Instead, it should be considered in conjunction with all the available science. 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.
Getting started: what is a headache actually?
Primary headache conditions are those that exist independently of any other medical condition. If you have been to your GP or neurologist and nothing has been found on scans or other tests, this applies to you.
Included under this umbrella are migraine, tension headache and cluster headache, among others. These are the main conditions that we pride ourselves on treating effectively and quickly at The Headache and Pain Management Centre, but it applies to any head or face pain that is currently without a proper treatment plan.
The trigeminocervical nucleus – the control centre that causes headache
The trigeminocervical nucleus is a control centre in your brain that receives information from:
- All the sensory input from 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 – i.e. too constricted or too dilated
- Serotonin (a chemical that regulates your body’s response to stress, food, hormones)
- A system called the DNIC (a system that controls pain e.g.: 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 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 (i.e. with no headache or migraine).
Commonly people state that their migraine or headache is triggered by any or all of:
- Prolonged sitting at computer
- Neck movements
- Driving a car
- Menstrual cycle
- Red and white wine
- Sometimes just at random with no pattern
However, obviously not every woman gets migraines once a month, nor does every person who is stressed get a headache. Therefore the question that needs to be asked is: why is it that some people get migraines from stress, chocolates or hormone changes, but not others?
So how does this information about why headaches happen 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 away and out of things.
A non-headache sufferer’s cup may only be about 40% full. It takes a lot to fill the cup up. You know the story – having too much to drink, a concussion, something very emotionally stressful, severe dehydration… these things can fill the cup 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.
By contrast, a headache sufferer’s cup is much more full – maybe 90-95% full, or even completely full if you have a headache constantly… but it doesn’t end there! Not only is the cup full, there is a dropper above the cup consistently dropping the water up and over the edge onto the saucer. 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 your headache problem?
Our clinicians at The Headache and Pain Management Centre want to find out what is “filling up your cup” – i.e. what is sensitising your nucleus. The most common solution is to treat the top of your neck, which we do using the ground-breaking Watson Headache Approach.
Our techniques are very gentle, using mild sustained pressure to your neck in order to diagnose and treat your 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.
To find out more information or have an obligation-free discussion with one of our friendly staff, please contact The Headache and Pain Management Centre on 1300 16 55 33 or simply use the contact form above.
Many thanks to Dean Watson of the Watson Headache Institute for the material contained in this article.