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Did you know that migraines can have a link to the neck. Australia’s own Dean Watson founded the Watson Headache Institute and concluded that the upper bones in your neck just beneath the skull can actually contribute to making parts of your brain sensitive (the brainstem in particular – where the rain attached to the spinal cord). Parts of this brainstem also contains the trigeminal nuclei which supplies sensation and muscle movements of the face. Hence, why migraines often involve pain not just in the head but also the face and can also be associated with numbness and lack of feeling on one side of the face.

Migraines occur in 4 phases – the premonitory (prodromal) phase – typically 1 to 2 days before the migraine starts. This stage can present with symptoms such as fatigue, yawning, irritability, mood changes, food cravings, increased thirst and constipation.

The next phase is the Aura phase. Aura’s are reversible neurological symptoms. The first time this happens to a migraine sufferer this is often confused with a stroke. Symptoms include visual disturbances (such as zigzag lines appearing in front of the eyes, sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), visual loss , weakness on one side of the face and/or body,  and difficulty talking (dysarthria) , expressing words and thoughts (apraxia), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia),  difficulty concentrating and confusion.

Following this is the Headache phase where the whole head or one side of the head can occur. Occasionally headaches can move from one side to the other within the same migraine which is indicative that your neck may be involved. Equally, if your headache can be one side and then the other side from one migraine to the next it is likely your migraine is from your neck. The headache may also be correlated with nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness and fainting.

The postdrome phase is the last phase which may present with extreme fatigue, confusion and sluggishness and head pain which is sensitive to movement.

Physio treatment is aimed at realigning or reducing pressure in the first 3 bones in your neck which may be contributing to the migraines. At the Movement Mill our therapists are certified in using the Watson’s Headache Techniques and may be able to help significantly to help with your migraines.

Book with the Movement Mill online or by calling one of our branches and ask to be booked with a Watson’s Headache Practitioner.

Written by Jonathan Khoo – Movement Mill Physiotherapist