The Area of Your Headache or Migraine Pain

April 16, 2010 by Dean Watson · Leave a Comment 

Where do you feel the pain of your headache or migraine?

This is a really important question for us because the area of your headache or migraine can give us a really strong indication as to which spinal segment we are dealing with.

For example if the pain of your headache or migraine is right behind your eye this suggests very strongly that the spinal segment at fault is that one which lies between the second and third cervical vertebrae (C2-3 segment). Along with this you are likely to feel accompanying neck stiffness or discomfort and if it is on the same side of your headache this is relevant!

Sometimes this neck discomfort or pain may travel up and over the top of the head, fairly close to the midline to end behind your eye, once again this demonstrates that the spinal segment at fault is the C2-3 segment. By the way if your headache is accompanied by significant nausea this provides further evidence of C2-3 involvement – and your pain is likely to be throbbing or pounding in nature.

If your pain is more across the forehead above your eyebrows, this suggests very strongly that the spinal segment at fault is that joint which lies between the skull and first vertebrae (CO-C1 segment).

Similarly, if the pain of your headache or migraine is around the side of your head around your ear, this indicates to us that the spinal segment most likely to be at fault is CO-C1. Some headache sufferers experience a band around their head as if a hat they are wearing is too tight – this is more like an ache, pressure or tightness. Often this type of presentation is misdiagnosed as a ‘tension-type’ headache – it really is an unrecognised cervicogenic headache!

To Summarise & Steps to Finding a Practitioner

So to summarise, if your headache or migraine is one sided and can occur on either side, or can swap sides within the same episode; if your headache or migraine is preceded or accompanied by neck stiffness, pain or discomfort; and if your headache or migraine has gradually increased in frequency over the years, there is a strong probability that your headache or migraine is coming from a neck disorder. But the final confirmation is temporary reproduction and lessening of familiar head pain when we examine your neck. This is a key to diagnosing neck related or cervicogenic headache.

Would you like an Internationally Trained Practitioner to assist you with your Headache or Migraine pain?

About Dean Watson
Consultant Headache & Migraine Physiotherapist; International Teacher; Director, The Headache Clinic & Watson Headache Institute; PhD Candidate Murdoch University, Western Australia; Adjunct Lecturer, Masters Program, Physiotherapy School, University of South Australia; MAppSc(Res) GradDipAdvManipTher Experienced health practitioners trained in the Watson Headache Approach perform the examination and treatment techniques developed by Dean Watson. These techniques are based on his extensive experience of 7000 headache patients (21,000 hours) over 21 years and are now taught internationally. For your nearest practitioner who has completed training in the ‘Watson Headache Approach’ please refer to the ‘Practitioner Directory’.

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