The Melbourne Headache Centre was established we come to work everyday knowing that we are potentially going to change the life of someone with a chronic problem. That is a truly wonderful feeling.
Knowing that we might help someone get through school, go to work, or just be a vibrant family and community member without the burden of a chronic and disabling condition, or having reliance on medications is our clinics' 'Raison d'être' or reason for being.
Whilst the reality is we can’t help everyone (it’s not a miracle cure) we know we are the best placed people to assess and treat one of the key pieces of the migraine puzzle.
We are acutely aware that this is a gift that carries great responsibility as dealing with people who are desperate for help too often leads to ‘snake oil’ type approaches, and even other Watson Headache® practitioners are not immune from their ‘solution’ being more about their business model than your health.
We are driven by:
- Honesty - we will explain what we expect to find, and how we expect things to change.
- Excellence - we limit the number of treatments each therapist performs per day. This allows important time for critical thinking, discussion with colleagues, case reviews and planning, so that each treatment you have has been careful though through. We also know where our expertise lay. We are not psychologists, nutritionists, naturopaths or exercise physiologists. Whilst we read widely and understand a great deal about how all the parts of the migraine puzzle fit together, we will not dilute our expertise, and insult the professional training of others by being 'jack of all trades' inevitably leading to being a master of none.
- Integrity - we follow the principles we were taught. If we cannot see significant change within the first 5 sessions we stop. This does not mean you should be 'cured' or symptom free in 5 session (though we hope that may happen), but that for any further treatment (and rarely is that more than 3 sessions) we need to both be happy that there is a significant improvement. When things are not changing the way we expect, we will not waste your time, which is why our treatment average in the small group we can't help is 4.
We regularly see people from other clinics claiming to use the same approach that we do, yet after 10 sessions they have still not corrected the issues in the neck, and they are 'moving on' to diet, hormones, sleep etc.
That's why we get the results we do, and have been sought out by patients and therapists from around the world, and have been invited to collaborate on research with the University of South Australia, La Trobe University and University of Sydney on a number. of research projects involving brainstem sensitisation.
Cindy was experiencing up to 60 headaches every day. Watch her story below :
What we know
The last 20 years of research has shown a key area in the brainstem that houses all the nerves for the head and face (the trigeminal nucleus) is overstimulated constantly in all forms of primary headache, whether it is migraine, migraine with aura, menstrual migraine, tension-type headache or cluster headache, and their variants. In other words this little area in the brainstem is like a coffee cup that is sitting at three quarters full all the time. It is 'on edge' waiting for triggers (anything increasing the 'energy' of the system - over sleep, under sleep, skip a meal, stress, hormonal fluctuations, weather changes etc) to spill it over causing symptoms.
The nerves from the upper three segments of the neck (C1-C3) feed directly into the trigeminal nucleus yet are dismissed as being irrelevant by conventional medicine. Sadly, this has led to a fault in the top of the neck being ignored and poorly treated, until now.
Groundbreaking research by Australian physiotherapist Dean Watson has proven that the technique he developed, known as the Watson Headache ® approach was able to treat a small fault in the top of the neck, decreasing this underlying activity.
In other words we empty out the coffee cup, giving all kinds of people including migraine sufferers more capacity to cope with daily stressors, reducing the need for potent medications and improving quality of life.
The medical approach of ‘identify and avoid triggers’, and ‘medicate to mask the symptoms’ is helpful, but only for a short period of time as triggers can be hard to identify and avoid all the time, and our bodies have a habit of adapting to medication, many of which themselves will cause headache if the dose increases.
So even if your medication is working and you tolerate it, you should view that as an opportunity to find the solution to the causes of your migraine, rather than see it as a total solution.
What we do
During your 'in rooms' assessment we look for three key factors:
- The presence of a key fault that creates a spasm in a small muscle in the top of your neck
- The ability to switch off this spasm in approx 30 seconds of pressure in the right part of your neck
- Proof that this fault is causing your symptoms. This is done by mimicking the pressure that this fault creates in the top of the neck to temporarily reproduce familiar symptoms. This is not 'causing a migraine' but simply highlighting the connection between the stressed neck and the areas you experience pain in the head or face.
When we see this temporary reproduction of symptoms, and that they ease as the technique is sustained over 20-30 seconds we know we can 'empty the coffee cup', and like Cindy, have a significant impact on your quality of life in a very short period of time.