Ross and John 3AW breakfast - Melbourne Headache Centre interview on Watson Headache Approach
Ross and John Breakfast – 3AW 18/10/2016
Ross Stevenson: A migraine therapy treatment offers sufferers relief by shifting the focus from the head to the neck, and now the Melbourne Headache Centre is joining a World-first clinical trial in what is called the Watson Headache ® Approach. Roger O’Toole is a physiotherapist at the Melbourne Headache Centre. Roger good morning to you
Roger O'Toole: Good morning, thanks for having me on.
Ross Stevenson: Who is Watson and what is his approach?
Roger O'Toole: Watson is Dean Watson, a physiotherapist from Adelaide, SA, and he pioneered an approach, a hands on approach, a manual therapy approach, and he pioneered this over in Adelaide in the last couple of decades. He’s refined the approach. It’s the only hands on approach specifically developed to treat headache and migraine, whereas most other approaches are a bit more general, in that they are trying to treat muscle spasm or joint stiffness and hoping that the headaches will respond, and sometimes they do, whereas this has been developed specifically just to treat the sensitivity associated with migraines and headache.
Ross Stevenson: Do we now have a theory that migraine originate from some deformity in the neck?
Roger O'Toole: Certainly some percentage of them. What I don’t want is to be standing here saying its all about the neck. Migraines are a complex issue, but we know over the last decade of research with migraines and tension headaches and cluster headaches, all of the primary headaches is that the area in the brainstem that houses all the nerves for the head and the face, known as the trigemino-cervical nucleus is overactive at rest. An easy way to picture that is like a coffee cup. Most of us would wake up in the morning and our coffee cup is empty, and we can all gradually fill it, and if it spills over we get a headache. It happens rarely or infrequently. Migraine sufferers and TTH sufferers are starting their day with a cup ¾ full, so it doesn’t take much interaction with thing we would typically call triggers to then over fill that and sill it out. So what we are saying is the neck, and certainly the anatomical research points to the neck as being in the box seat to cause this overstimulation, so effectively its filling the cup.
Ross Stevenson: Ok, do I take it then Roger that since there is debate about whether massaging the neck will cure a migraine, that there is no pill that will cure a migraine?
Roger O'Toole: We don’t have a cure, and we wouldn’t stand here and say “we have a cure”. What we have to date from the research that has led to this trial has shown that when we examine the neck in an expert way, using techniques designed specifically for the task, that we can actually effectively empty out that coffee cup. We can lower the underlying sensitivity in the brainstem. Now it is a complex issue and there are lots of things that can potentially cause headaches and other types of headaches as well, but this is one major factor and it’s a treatable factor. So its not to say “throw away your pills and never have a migraine again – though certainly for some people that will be the case, its more to say that there is an issue there that is very common, and its largely being ignored. The neck has generally been relegated to a symptom and its often a rudimentary scan is the extent of the investigation.
What we are saying is that there is now a technique, the Watson Headache Approach which ids capable of assessing this fault in the top of the neck, and its capable of treating it, and for a vast majority of sufferers that going to lead to significant improvements in a fairly short space of time.
Ross Stevenson: Good on ya Roger. Roger O'Toole is from the Melbourne Headache Centre.