FLEX Headache Clinic

Do you know someone who suffers with headaches or migraines? FLEX Headache Clinic in Hobart is here to help.

About Our Headache Clinic Services

Our initial 45min consult allows for a thorough and holistic assessment.  Using unique and precise techniques we can assess if your neck, posture or muscles imbalances are relevant for your headaches or migraines.

As part of our headache assessment we often also look at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

TMJ dysfunction can cause jaw pain, but also ear, head or facial pain. TMJ issues can present as clicking or locking of the jaw, difficulty with opening or chewing, or pain as a result of clenching or grinding.

FLEX Headache Clinic

Using very precise techniques to assess the upper cervical spine, our specially trained Physios can assess if these levels are a contributing factor to the patient’s headaches and migraines, or not.

During an Initial Headache Consult, (45mins) and screening questionnaire, we can assess if this approach will be appropriate and effective for the client.

Even if the patient has been suffering for many years, we should know by the end of the second consult whether continuing treatment is warranted, and see significant improvement in 5 sessions.

With 25 years experience in treating only headache and migraine patients, Physiotherapist Dean Watson has developed the Watson Headache Approach, and has demonstrated great results.  

It all sounded too good to be true, but at FLEX Headache Clinic we are excited to be seeing the same amazing success, and the change it's making our patients' lives.

World leading neurologists and headache specialists are acknowledging the role of upper cervical spine sensory input, and sensitization of the lower brainstem (TCN) in both headaches and migraines.

Triptan medications offer short term, symptomatic relief to some migraines, but no change in the frequency or duration of migraines.

Previously triptans were prescribed for their vascular effects, however research has now shown them to have a desensitising effect on the lower brain stem (TCN).

Emerging research offers us new insights, that support this approach.  Below are some excerpts from research articles and a list of related articles.

One of the confusing phenomena about the Cervicogenic Headache is that its symptoms can present as migraine headaches, tension-type headaches, or even cluster headaches."

Dr Peter Rothbart Anaethetist and Internationally recognised pain researcher (Rothbart P. The cervicogenic headache: A pain in the neck. Canadian Journal Diagnosis 1996; 13:64-71) "For the clinician, pain presentations in the headache patient are frequently a diagnostic challenge.

"Headache of cervical origin and migraine often show similar clinical presentations."

Dr Peter Goadsby, internationally renowned researcher

(Goadsby PJ, Bartsch T. Anatomy and physiology of pain referral patterns in primary and cervicogenic headache disorders. Headache Currents  2005; 10:42-48)

"Cervicogenic headache has been described by many professions and specialities.  Most authorities agree that many patients experience neck symptoms associated with headache.  

Whether the neck is the cause of, or part of, another headache type, careful attention to the neck and its relationship to headache are extremely important."  

Gallagher R, Cervicogenic Headache: A Special Report.  Expert Review Neurotherapeutics 2007; 7 (10) 1279-83)

To find out more, please book an appointment.  

Karrie is happy to meet with health professionals to answer questions, explain the mechanisms and underlying theory behind this approach, and explain more about what we assess and treat.

Cervicogenic Headaches

"Cervicogenic headache" is simply a term for a headache that originates from the neck – it's one of the most common types of headache, and a Physiotherapist skilled in headache assessment and treatment can help.

Joints and muscles in the upper neck can refer pain into the head, temples, ear, forehead, face, sinus, jaw or base of skull – becoming a headache.  It is often but not always associated with pain or stiffness in the neck, and occasionally associated with dizziness.

For some people who are prone to migraine headaches, they may experience cervicogenic headache in the lead up to a migraine, and treating it early and effectively may prevent migraine onset.

Contributing Factors

There are several factors that predispose patients to developing cervicogenic headaches. These need to be assessed and corrected where possible with direction from a physiotherapist. These include:

  • Neck and upper back stiffness
  • Muscle imbalances around the neck and shoulders
  • Whiplash, neck injury or trauma
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Stress or fatigue
  • Poor ergonomic setup
  • Inappropriate pillow or sleeping postures
  • Excessive slouching or perching (eg. mobile phone or tablet use looking down, or computer use whilst slumped are common culprits!)

Medical Treatment

Your GP may prescribe pain killers, anti-inflammatories, or “migraine” medications for symptomatic relief.  

They will also ask questions and if required, do tests to rule out your headaches being a symptom of more sinister medical pathology.

Physiotherapy Treatment

Typical Physio treatment may include:  

  • Restoring more comfortable neck movement and joint mobility using gentle manual therapy.
  • Assess if postural habits and/or muscular imbalances like muscle weakness or muscle overactivity is contributing to your headaches, and set specific exercises to retrain them.
  • Joint mobilisation and/or manipulation of thoracic spine and ribs if stiffness or "squashedness" is relevant
  • Taping or short term use of a postural support brace
  • Advice about ergonomics, pillows and activity modification
  • Exercises to improve posture, flexibility, control and strength around the neck and shoulders
  • Discuss other possible headache triggers and management strategies
  • Test and treat causes of dizziness including cervicogenic and vestibular

In rare cases manual therapy may initially stir up your symptoms.  If this occurs, please discuss with your Physio so they can adapt treatment accordingly.

FLEX Headache Clinic

Visit the experts at FLEX Health Therapy today

FLEX Health Therapy in Hobart provides exceptional Physiotherapy, including assessment and diagnosis, effective hands on therapy, and targeted exercise rehabilitation, looking after you from top to toe.