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Cervical spine as a source for headache in Watson Headache ® approach

Rule in or rule out your neck as a contributor to your headaches with the Watson Headache ® approach.

If you want to be confident in your diagnosis, with the Watson Headache® Approach we can tell you if the neck definitely is or isn’t involved.

The Watson Headache® Approach helps us to perform three tasks for you:

  1. it allow us to rule in or rule out whether a neck problem is part of your headache problem
  2. it allows us to make a diagnosis of exactly which spinal joints are involved so you can feel reassured that we are
  3. it allows us to ‘calm’ the over-sensitivity of the lower brainstem to a more normal level of sensitivity


The Watson Headache ® Approach is a systematic approach to assessing the upper cervical spine (neck) to work out if your neck is involved in your headaches, and if so, which segments are responsible.

The feature that sets the Watson Headache ® Approach apart from any other approach is the reproduction and resolution of the your headache pain and any other symptoms that come with your headaches.

Though that sounds scary to anyone that suffers headaches, it is purely temporary – as soon as the pressure is removed, the pain disappears.

What that means is that by carefully examining the joints individually in the upper neck, it is possible to isolate the one(s) that are capable of producing the same pain as that of your headache.

However, reproducing the headache pain isn’t enough.

If the pressure is held over this joint and the pain of the headache gradually disappears (resolution) of the headache pain, this indicates that this joint is relevant.

Reproduction and resolution of your headache pain allow identification of the relevant levels.

The Watson Headache ® Approach is based on the well-accepted research findings that in the lower part of the brain called the brainstem, there is a group of cells called the trigeminocervical nucleus that receive information from the head and face, and also from the upper three segments of the neck.

This overlay of information between the two areas is the way in which neck pain can be perceived as headache.

This group of cells in the brainstem has been shown to become extra-sensitive in headache and migraine sufferers, so that it takes less to ‘tip it over the edge’ and give you a headache.

Because this region of the brainstem receives sensory information from both areas, it means that any dysfunction of the upper three segments of the neck is capable of sensitising it, but also that by treating the upper neck the sensitivity can be helped to return to normal, resulting in less headaches.

Treatment of the neck works in two ways: it helps the neck joints and muscles work more normally, and it is used to desensitise this region of the brainstem.

The Watson Headache ® Approach eliminates guesswork.