Exercise and Migraine

October 20, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Exercise encourages serotonin production

Exercise encourages serotonin production

In a recent study 30 female migraineurs undertook an aerobic exercise program.

Measures of pain and psychological assessment (including body image, depression and quality if life) were assessed before and after completion of the 6 week exercise and exercise program.

The program led to a significant reduction migraine pain intensity. This is not surprising as exercise encourages serotonin production which desensitises the brainstem. Interestingly there was also an improvement in the depression related symptoms (I would be happier to if my migraine was less severe!), but the psychological factors were no different (good to see my experience confirmed i.e. migraine sufferers are psychologically normal!)

Sensitisation of the brainstem in my experience occurs because of a neck disorder and whilst increased serotonin is likely to improve symptoms the cause of the senstisation is still there. It is important that this (the neck) be confirmed and addressed – but start (and keep) exercising as well!



(Dittrich SM, Guünther V, Franz G, Burtscher M, Holzner B, Kopp M. Clin J Sport Med. 2008;18:363-365 Aerobic exercise with relaxation: Influence on pain and psychological well-being in female patients. Clin J Sport Med. 2008;18:363-365)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Migraine Headache and Cervicogenic Headache

October 15, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

The authors of this study have previously shown :

that neck pain is very common in migraine and is more often present during migraine than nausea

the presence of neck pain at the time of migraine treatment significantly decreases the chances of becoming pain-free within 2 hours

the presence of neck pain is likely to increase migraine-related disability irrespective of headache frequency and severity.

In the this study 127 migraine sufferers recorded 762 migraines and it was found that those with neck pain were less likely to achieve a pain free state and tended to have poorer outcomes than those with headache only i.e. without neck pain.

The authors considered that the presence of neck pain on the day before the migraine is associated with poorer treatment response; that neck pain before migraine is a better predictor of a poor treatment outcome than is headache only …. of course it is if the neck is not treated!

Clearly the reason for sensitisation can be abnormal information from neck disorders and if this is not addressed then treatment outcomes will be less than satisfactory.



(Calhoun AH, Ford S. Headache or neck pain the day before: impact on migraine treatment outcome Cephalalgia 2009;29(Suppl. 1):1–166)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Hemicrania Continua and Cervicogenic (neck-related) Headache – Are They The Same Condition?

August 31, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Interesting to note a case study reporting that the head pain of a patient suffering hemicrania continua was temporarily reproduced and resolved by neck movements and later by blocking or injecting the greater occipital nerve. These two features are key diagnostic signs of cervicogenic or neck related headache and indeed this respected researcher concludes this.



(Rothbart P. Unilateral Headache with Features of Hemicrania Continua and Cervicogenic Headache – A Case Report. Headache 1992;(32)9;459-60)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

The Uncertainty of Treating Migraine

August 21, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

“ … little does it concern the patient that there is an underlying cause … if the practitioner is unable to relieve his pain.” (Persian Avicienna – Critchley 1967)

This statement was made 2000 years ago and remains true today – patients are seeking treatment, but since the cause of migraine remains unclear, treatment is provided on a less than solid scientific foundation, on a ‘we’ll try this and see what affect it has’ basis.

However what is becoming increasingly clear (except to those who continue to support the notion that headache and migraine are separate entities) is that headache and migraine arise from the same (sensitised brainstem) disorder – the evidence is there – this is the underlying cause. Not only can we confirm relevant neck disorders as the source but we can offer a way of addressing it, based not on guesswork but on sound scientific evidence.



(Anderson CD, Franks RA. Migraine and tension headache: is there a physiological difference? Headache 1981; 21:63-71

Critchley M. Migraine from cappadocia to queens square. In: Smith R, ed. Background to Migraine. London: Heinemann;1967:28

Cady RK, Gutterman D, Saires JA, Beach ME. Responsiveness of non-IHS migraine and tesnion-type headache to sumatrptan. Cephalalgia 1997;17:588-90

Cady R, Schreiber C, Farmer K, Sheftell F. Primary headaches: a convergence hypothesis. Headache 2002; 42:204-16

Featherstone HJ. Migraine and muscle contraction headaches: a continuum. Headache 1985; 25:194-198

Marcus D, Scharff L, Mercer S, Turk D. Musculoskeletal abnormalities in chronic headache: a controlled comparison of headache diagnostic groups. Headache 1999; 39:21-27

Mercer S, Marcus DA, Nash J. Cervical musculoskeletal disorders in migraine and tension-type headache. Paper presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association; 1993; Cincinatti, Ohio

Marcus DA. Migraine and tension-type headaches: the questionable validity of current classification systems. Clin J Pain 1992; 8:28-36

Nelson CF. The tension headache, migraine headache continuum: A hypothesis J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1994; 17:156-167

Rozen T. Cessation of hemiplegic migraine auras with greater occipital nerve blockade. Headache 2007;47:917-928

Takmaz, S. et al Greater occipital nerve block in migraine headache: Preliminary results of 10 patients. Agri 2008 Jan;20(1):47-50)

Vernon H, Steiman I, Hagino C. Cervicogenic dysfunction in muscle contraction headache and migraine: A descriptive study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1992; 15:418-429

Yi X et al Cervicogenic headache in patients with presumed migraine: missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis? J Pain. 2005 Oct;6(10):700-3

Young et al Greater occipital nerve and other anesthetic injections for primary headache disorders. Headache 2008;48:1122-1125

Young et al. The first 5 minutes after greater occipital nerve block. Headache 2008;48:1126-1139)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Migraine In 1888 – The Same As In 2009!

August 19, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Amazing! I have just come across a gentleman who in 1888 who described the migraine process in this way: “… we must not ascribe too much significance to throbbing of the increase in the pain by the cause of vascular distension; these may be due merely to the over sensitiveness of the central structures.” In other words expansion of the blood vessels is unlikely to be the cause of pain; it may be that expansion of blood vessels is misinterpreted by a sensitised central nervous system.

This information from the blood vessels has to pass through the BRAINSTEM on the way to the cortex … and what has been shown to be the disorder in headache and migraine? … a SENSITISED BRAINSTEM.

A man 120 years before his time – Bravo!



(Gowers WR. Diseases of the brain and cranial nerves. General and functional diseases of the nervous system. A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System, 1st Ed. Vol. 2 London: Churchill, 1888)

© 2009 & Beyond. Watson Headache Institute, All Rights Reserved.

Treating the Neck Can Eliminate Migraine Symptoms

July 22, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Interesting to note that by blocking or ‘numbing’ the greater occipital nerve, the pain of migraine, sensitivity to light and tendereness are all significantly reduced – further evidence to support that abnormal cervicogenic (neck) information could be the source of sensitisation in the migraine process.



(Young, W. et al The first 5 minutes after greater occipital nerve block. Headache 2008 July 48(7):1126-8)

Attention Headache Sufferers “Is Headache Or Migraine Pain Controlling Your Life?”

July 15, 2009 by Dean Watson · Leave a Comment 

To get a FREE Report, which gives you knowledge that may help you manage your Headache or Migraine problem more effectively, just enter your name and email address to your right and you will be given instant access to this valuable information.