The Watson Technique for Headaches

If you experience headaches, contact the clinic to book an appointment with Specialist Physiotherapist Carol Ellis.  Here she explains more….

  • What is the Watson headache Approach?

It is a way of assessing and treating someone’s upper neck that may be sensitising them to headaches and migraine.

The approach involves applying gentle sustained pressures to the joints of the upper 3 neck segments. If stiffness of one or more of these segments is responsible for Headache or Migraine, the usual head pain can be reproduced – temporarily – it ceases immediately the technique is ceased. Reproduction and resolution is a good indicator for a successful outcome to treatment.

  • Are there different types of headache?

Yes there are many presentations of headache and migraine. There are many ways of labelling and categorising headaches and migraine and this can be confusing.   It is important to see your GP to check whether non musculoskeletal cause for your symptoms.


Symptoms can be one- sided or symmetrical. They can change from right to left sided and even change during the same headache. The area of the headache and it’s behaviour helps identify the structures that are involved.

  • What can cause a headache?

The upper neck is linked with the pathways in the brain that trigger headaches and migraine. If the upper neck  is stiff this can result in local muscle spasm, which sensitises the headache system. This means a person is more likely have symptoms and be triggered by other factors, eg hormones, stress, light, etc.

  • How long can treatment last?

Improvement can be expected within 4-5 treatments. If not, treatment is discontinued.  Initially it is helpful to be seen 3 or 4 times within the first 10 days and then sessions become more spread out as you improve and self -manage. Whilst  successful outcomes cannot be guaranteed,  most experience  significant reduction, if not totally resolved, in their recurring headache or migraine long term.

  • What happens in treatment?

The approach involves applying gentle sustained pressures to the joints of the upper 3 neck segments . Resolving the stiffness, using gentle sustained pressures,  means less muscle spasm and therefore less sensitisation and less reaction to triggers. This can have a considerable effect on frequency, intensity and duration of symptoms.

  • What can I do for myself in between treatments?

You will be shown exercises, self- treatment techniques and advised on postural care  to help maintain improvement between sessions.  This will form the basis of your self -management to keep you well in the future.



Maynewater Lane, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 2AB | 01284 748200 |

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