The Watson Headache & Migraine Approach

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WA Headache Clinic – The Watson Approach

The Watson Headache® Approach is a specific technique to identify the source of your headache in your neck (upper cervical spine). Developed by Australian physiotherapist Dr Dean Watson, this ‘hands on’ approach is based on physiotherapy manual techniques and neurological sensitivity.

The top three spinal segments of the neck can cause headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, idiopathic eye pain, and other symptoms. Unlike traditional cracking and crunching methods, our approach is gentle and systematic, ensuring that we accurately identify and treat the involved segments. Say goodbye to joint pain, irritation, and referred pain without any discomfort!

There is no cracking and crunching or pushing hard in these treatments. We just help to reduce joint pain which in turn reduces irritation and referred pain.

What makes us different?

Our physiotherapists are highly trained in the Watson Headache® Approach, which allows us to identify the root cause of headaches and migraines. By assessing neck and posture, we can create personalised treatment plans for each patient. This approach helps achieve long-term relief from headache and migraine symptoms.

Why this works

The Watson Headache® & Migraine Approach can provide immediate relief from pain reproduction, headache intensity, frequency, duration, and associated sensory problems. It achieves this by addressing the root cause of headaches and migraines, which is often related to stiff or poorly functioning neck joints. Our approach also helps to alleviate postural muscular tension from other areas of the body that can worsen headaches and migraines.

Hormonal changes, fatigue, stress, and emotional responses can exacerbate this pain. However, by identifying and treating the underlying causes, we can help patients regain their function and live a pain-free life. It is worth noting that with our approach, extensive treatment is not necessary, and patients can experience instant relief from their symptoms.

Click here to make an appointment online or call us on (08) 9384 1555.


Will this work for everyone with headache?
Everyone is different, and not all headaches and migraines will benefit from this treatment, but our findings (and the research findings of the Watson Headache Institute) are that approximately 80% of headache sufferers will get a reduction in the severity, frequency and duration of their headaches with treatment. We have had many cases of complete resolution of headaches.

How many treatments will I need?
Everyone is different, so this will differ between cases, however we’ve found most people will attend between 4-6 treatment sessions. Some people may then need further, intermittent maintenance treatment, and some won’t.

Does this work for vestibular migraine/Hormonal or menstrual migraine/cluster headache?
Yes is many cases all these types of migraine can benefit from our treatment. While many headache and migraine sufferers will experience different types of symptoms, in general these are all just symptoms of a common underlying problem – hypersensitivity of the brain and brainstem. Symptoms like dizziness (for example) are just another part of the sensitisation of the lower brain.

Will I have to keep coming forever?
Generally no. Usually we find patients will attend on average 4-6 sessions. Some people may need further maintenance sessions and some won’t.
If our headache physiotherapists don’t believe you will benefit from the treatment, they won’t keep treating you. In most cases you should see improvements within 2-3 sessions.

Does it involve drugs/”cracking”?
No, the Watson Headache approach is drug free and involves gentle manual therapy only. There is no manipulation or cracking involved.

Can you treat children with headache/migraine?
Yes, but as above not everyone will benefit or is appropriate for this type of treatment.

How long are the sessions?

The initial session with our Headache Physiotherapists is up to 60 minutes duration. This includes a comprehensive screening for other causes of headache, a full assessment and treatment. Any subsequent treatment sessions are between 30 to 45 minutes.

Will this work for me?

Our own data and the research from the Watson Headache Institute shows that approximately 80% of chronic headache and migraine sufferers will get improvements in the severity, frequency and duration of their headache symptoms; and a significant number have had full resolution. We see (and talk to) many headache sufferers who feel like they are on a merry-go-round of medications, specialists and trials of other treatments. This is obviously very frustrating and many people are understandably cautious of trying another treatment approach. Our best advice is – if you are struggling with Migraine or headache and you aren’t entirely happy with your current treatment, you really have nothing to lose. If, after your initial assessment, the Headache Physios don’t believe you will benefit from treatment with us then we won’t continue to treat you. 

Are you suffering from Migraine or persistent headaches? We would love to help you out.

Click here to make an appointment online or call us on (08) 9384 1555.

Watson Approach Headache Team – Claremont

Sophie Hellings

Sophie Hellings

Physiotherapist - Claremont

Mark Wicklund

Mark Wicklund

Physiotherapist - Claremont