Migraine and Stress

October 22, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

When stressed, muscles shorten, joints move abnormally, pain is referred to the head

When stressed, muscles shorten, joints move abnormally, pain is referred to the head

One of the most common triggers reported by individuals with migraine is stress.1-5 Approximately 76% of migraine suffers report identifiable triggers and of those 80% report stress as a common trigger.6

When we get stressed our muscles shorten ‘asking’ the vertebra to which they are attached, to move. If however the joint is stiff, messages from shortened structures for example capsules, ligaments and muscles, which are there to prevent the joint from moving too much, are not allowing the joints to move normally and pain is referred to your head – stress without a neck disorder does not result in headache.

A skilled examination of the movements of the upper neck can confirm this for you.



(2. Chabriat H, Danchot J, Michel P, Joire JE, Henry P. Precipitating factors of headache. A prospective study in a national control-matched survey in migraineurs and nonmigraineurs. Headache. 1999;39:335-338.

1. Hung CI, Liu CY, Wang SJ. Precipitating or aggravating factors for headache in patients with major depressive disorder. J Psychosom Res. 2008;64:231-235.

4. Karli N, Zarifoglu M, Calisir N, Akgoz S. Comparison of pre-headache phases and trigger factors of migraine and episodic tension-type headache: Do they share similar clinical pathophysiology? Cephalalgia. 2005;25:444-451.

6. Kelman L. The triggers or precipitants of the acute migraine attack. Cephalalgia. 2007;27:394-402.

5. Martin PR, Milech D, Nathan PR. Towards a functional model of chronic headaches: Investigation of antecedents and consequences. Headache. 1993;33:461-470

3. Rasmussen BK. Migraine and tension-type headache in a general population: Psychosocial factors. Int J Epidemiol. 1992;21:1138-1143)

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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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