Migraine and Cervicogenic Headache

June 29, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Whilst teaching in the UK recently I had the privilege of attending a Headache and Migraine Clinic at one of the major teaching hospitals in London.

The consultant neurologist and I examined nine migraine sufferers and I was able to temporarily reproduce their migraine pain, and furthermore this pain lessened as I maintained the technique.

This in my experience confirms significant cervicogenic (neck) involvement and according to The International Headache Society is a key diagnostic feature of cervicogenic headache. The conclusion of  the consultant neurologist was that these patients had cervicogenic headache as well as migraine!

Why can’t cervicogenic (neck) disorders be the cause of the key feature of migraine – a sensitised brainstem? The answer I am constantly given …. “whilst we don’t know where migraine comes from it can’t come from the neck.” This is not a particularly useful answer ….



(Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edn. Cephalalgia 2004; 24(suppl.1):1-151

Sjaastad O, Fredricksen TA, Pfaffenrath V. Cervicogenic headache: diagnostic criteria. Headache 1998; 38:442-5)

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About dean
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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