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, Tension Headache, the Neck and Sensitisation of the Brainstem

August 22, 2009 by dean · Leave a Comment 

Is a neck disorder relevant?

Information from the neck - is a neck disorder relevant?

It is generally agreed and it has been demonstrated that the brainstems in migraineurs and tension headache sufferers are sensitised.

The brainstem is influenced by 4 systems:

information from structures inside the head – head scans which fortunately in over 95% of headache and migraine sufferers the scans are clear, will eliminate this factor

the diffuse noxious inhibitory control system – this is poorly understood, but it is the mechanism which acts when you hit your thumb with a hammer and your headache seems less painful – hardly an attractive treatment option!

the serotonin system – serotonin desensitises the brainstem – if there is not enough then the brainstem becomes sensitised – so it makes sense to optimise your production of serotonin – diet, exercise, sunlight and perhaps a L-tryptophan supplement (after checking with your doctor)

information from the neck – get your neck checked. Many of us have a neck disorder, but is it relevant? This can be determined by, when examining the neck, temporarily reproducing familiar head pain which lessens as the technique is sustained. In my 21000 hours of experience this occurs in over 90% of headache and migraine conditions. My approach as a diagnostic tool is unparalleled in the manual therapy area and is in accordance with the views of traditional medicine.

Why does it have to be complicated?

The last two systems are within your control – you can take steps to address these.



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