MIGRAINE and severe headache – especially if chronic – can debilitate lives, causing acute suffering for those afflicted and taking a heavy toll on those around them.
The condition affects between 2.5-3 million Australians and costs Australia an estimated $1 billion per annum in direct and indirect costs, according to Headache Australia.
It is typically treated with drug therapy, with varying effectiveness.
But a new non-invasive (no injections or surgery) and drug-free approach that does not involve “cracking” of the spine could radically improve the quality of life of many sufferers.
Claremont’s BodyWise Physiotherapy has established a dedicated headache and migraine service, the WA Headache Clinic.
“Are you fed up with ineffective headache and migraine treatments?” asks Julian Bowen, Director of BodyWise.
“Are you taking stronger and stronger medication, and is it getting less effective over time? Or causing side-effects just as bad (or worse) than the headaches?”
“Does it concern you that many health professionals believe the cause of your headaches is ‘unknown’?
“Over the last 18 months, we have quietly rolled out the Watson Headache® Approach, a revolutionary new evidence-based treatment approach for chronic headache and migraine.
“We now have some excellent results under our belt and clients are starting to spread the word.”
The Watson Headache Approach is a manual therapy methodology and protocol for examining and managing the upper cervical spine in all headache, including migraine.
The specific techniques are supported by, and coupled with a clinical reasoning process born of internationally-renowned Australian musculoskeletal physiotherapist Dr Dean Watson’s observation of this previously unrecognised clinical pattern.
“The treatments are directed at reducing the intensity/severity, frequency and duration of headaches,” says Bowen.
“Research into Watson Headache Approach shows that 80 per cent of persistent headache and migraine sufferers will have improvement in their symptoms and, in many cases, complete resolution.
“It doesn’t matter whether you suffer from migraines, tension-type headaches, cluster headache, vestibular migraine, menstrual migraine or cyclic vomiting syndrome.
According to BodyWise Headache Physio Doug Joyce, the simple rationale of these treatments is that migraines and persistent headaches are in many cases the result of an over-sensitised brainstem.
“Sensitisation can occur for a number of reasons. Dean Watson has shown that pain fibres coming from the upper neck into the brainstem is the primary driver of sensitisation of the brainstem,” he says.
“Our approach reduces those inputs, therefore allowing the underlying cause of the migraine to reduce or even resolve.
Says Bowen: “As far as we are aware, WA Headache Clinic is the only dedicated Watson Headache Approach clinic in Perth, and our headache physiotherapists Doug Joyce and Mark Wiklund the only clinicians with the complete Level 3 Watson Headache Approach training in Perth.”
He adds that the majority of patients Bodywise sees have been suffering migraine and persistent headache for many years.
“They have been on the merry-go-round of increasingly aggressive treatments, often with little improvement, ranging from increasingly stronger medication and neurologist management, to muscle relaxant injections and more,” he says.
“Many treatments for headaches only address the headache as a symptom. Very few successfully address the underlying source of the headaches.
“Due to recent advances in the understanding of primary headache we now know that by reducing the input into the brain stem – the ‘headache centre’ in the brain; we can turn down the underlying cause of headaches.”
Bowen says a thorough assessment will determine if a patient is in the 80 per cent of sufferers who could benefit from these treatments, regardless of the type of headache.
“In many cases, our patients have spent thousands of dollars with little success, and despair of the apparent hopelessness of their situation. They feel they are doomed to a life of pain.
“This is why we do what we do – to give people hope back, and to improve their quality of life so they can be functional and happy.
“By reducing the severity, frequency and duration of their headaches we aim to give patients control back over their lives. Arguably we can help them get their lives back!”
Call us now on 08 9384 1555 or visit www.bodywise.net.au to see how we make a difference.