The Headache & Migraine Specialist network represents a group of clinical physiotherapists and neurologists. Our members have come together through a shared commitment to improving the quality of life of headache and migraine sufferers. We share best practice, we are informed by the latest clinical research and we work towards a set of common principles and practices to ensure the best quality of care throughout the network.
Head & Migraine Specialists would like to thank the Whitley Bay Osteopathic Centre for inviting us onto their website.
Traditional Headache & Migraine Treatment
It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that around 250 million working days are lost in the UK alone to sickness through headaches and migraines. But national statistics do not reflect the misery caused by debilitating pain or the personal loss of income brought on by headaches and migraine.
Most headaches and migraines are badly managed through self-medication that may bring some temporary relief but do not treat underlying causes. Repeat visits to GPs often result in prolonged use of medication and expensive and sometimes unnecessary scans, still without access to effective treatment.
Through a combination of clinical experience and on-going research the Headache & Migraine Specialist network have come to the understanding that most causes of headaches and migraines have physical origins that respond well to expert treatment.
Underlying Causes of Headaches and Migraines
Research shows that there are many factors that affect an individual’s propensity to suffering from headache and migraine. Clusters of sufferers within family groups suggest there is a genetic link making some people more prone to migraine than others. A hormonal component is indicated by the fact the pre-menopausal women are three times more likely to suffer from migraine than any other group but for post-menopausal women the ratio balances out. Migraine is associated with certain food groups; particularly caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and mono sodium glutamate. There is a link between migraine and stress with the onset of migraine often associated with relaxation after a prolonged period of stress.
Through clinical observation and significant improvements following treatment, the Headache & Migraine Specialist network believe that there are many contributing factors to the cause of head pain. These factors often work in combination to bring a patient to a critical point where the threshold for pain is met which results in headache or migraine.
There is, however, one cause of headache that is often under-recognised, undiagnosed and therefore left without treatment.
Cervicogenic Headaches and Migraine
Cervicogenic refers to pain emanating from the cervical spine and in particular from the top of the shoulders and the neck. Pain signals from the neck and shoulder pass into the brain stem where they share synapses with the trigeminal nerves that are connected to the head and the face. With cervicogenic headache, normal sensory information from the trigeminal nerves become misinterpreted as pain and so the originating cause of pain is easily misdiagnosed.
Up to 90% of patients suffering from headaches and migraines report significant benefits from physio-therapeutical treatment of neck and shoulders clearly suggesting this is at least a contributing factor to headache and migraine.
Assessment and Treatment of Headaches and Migraines
Physiotherapists within the Headache & Migraine Specialist network take a thorough medical history before beginning any treatment. Our physiotherapists and clinicians offer a triage service from the first point of contact.
In some instances, patients may be referred back to their own GP for further assessment or referred on to neurologists. The Headache & Migraine Specialist network encourage all of our patients to consult their own GP. Most headaches and migraines are not life-threatening but it is advisable to talk to your GP if you develop sudden or severe symptoms, especially if these are different from previous attacks.
As part of the assessment, a specially trained headache and migraine physiotherapist will look at all aspects of your medical history and lifestyle. Cervicogenic causes of headache can be determined by temporarily reproducing the symptoms by stressing certain tissues in the neck. This allows for more specific diagnosis and more effective treatment.
For patients with cervicogenic headaches, once the areas of dysfunction have been confirmed, carefully manipulating neck and shoulder muscles and realigning spinal segments helps to ease the symptoms. With the correct treatment, most patients find the pattern and intensity of headaches starts to change very quickly.
Further Information / Contact Us
The Headache & Migraine Specialist network work with GP commissioning groups, clinics, health centres and hospitals to provide accurate diagnosis and treatment for head pain. We are always happy to hear from medical practitioners – including other physiotherapists – who may be interested in working with the Headache & Migraine Specialist network.
The intention is to expand the Headache & Migraine Specialist network throughout the UK. At the moment, membership is strongest in London and the South East of England.
For further information visit us at www.headacheandmigrainespecialists.com or call us on 0844 264 0305.