top of page
Lower Brain Stem sensitisation.png




There are many different kinds of headaches and migraines that have been categorised by the international headache society totalling over 270 types. You may be familiar with some of them:

Tension headaches

Stress related headaches;

Cervicogenic headaches

Cluster headaches

Migraine with aura

Migraines without aura

Menstrual Migraine

Vestibular Migraine

The TCC (trigemino cervical complex) situated in the lower brain stem in the upper neck, receives information from the upper nerves in your neck (C1, C2, C3) and from the Trigimenal nerve which brings information from the head and face, as well as information from the throat and ear (cranial nerves IX and X). There is a mixing of this information in the TCC in the lower brain stem, this is how pain can be referred into the head. 

It appears that in headache and migraine sufferers the TCC is sensitised or ‘irritated’ in its ‘resting state’ and consequently has a lower threshold for tolerating all the input it is receiving or stress it is put under, such as bright lights, loud noises, stress, lack of sleep, lack of food. The hypersensitive Trigeminal nerve can therefore result in the symptoms experienced in a migraine or headache.

Dean Watson’s publications from his PhD findings (Watson and Drummond) demonstrate a correlation between neck ‘dysfunction’ and headaches and migraines and that both headache and migraine symptoms can be reproduce and resolved from the upper cervical spine (neck).

By treating the upper levels of the neck with specific slow hold techniques, the sensitivity of the TCC can be reduced and the underlying dysfunction at the neck can be addressed. As a result the TCC can then tolerate, with more ease, the stimuli each day brings

It is important to note that if you are experiencing a severe onset of new/unusual neck or head pain (with or without associated symptoms) ‘out of the blue’ or different to any previous symptoms, that you should get this assessed by a Dr.and appropriately investigated prior to seeing Maia. It is important to rule out any other potential pathological cause of your new headache/neck symptoms.


Some migraines, but not all, may be preceded by an aura/visual disturbances that may or may not develop into a headache that is one sided. Other associated symptoms may include light and sound sensitivity, nausea and or vomiting. For a smaller percentage of sufferers they may also find their balance, speech, control of movement and sensation can also be affected. Aura symptoms may last up to an hour prior to the onset of headache.The headache symptoms may last typically from 4 hours to 24 and are usually followed by what is often referred to as a migraine ‘hangover’ where mood, cognition and energy levels can all be affected.

References and Quotes from Headache and Migraine Research:

“Approximately 800 new headache patients per year are examined at our clinic. An estimated 80% of these patients are diagnosed with cervicogenic headache. Of these patients, almost none are referred with this diagnosis. Physicians are not taught to consider or explore neck structures when investigating headaches. This results in a rarely diagnosed but common condition.”

“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.”

Rothbart P. The cervicogenic headache: A pain in the neck. Can J Diagnos 1996; 13: 64–71.

(Dr. Peter Rothbart, Anaesthetist, Director, Rothbart Pain Management Clinic, 16 York Mills Road Toronto, Ontario - internationally recognized clinician and researcher)


“For the clinician, pain presentations in the headache patient are frequently a diagnostic challenge.”

“Headache of cervical origin and migraine often shows similar clinical presentations.”

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

(Professor Peter Goadsby, internationally renowned and respected researcher)


“Cervicogenic headache is widespread. The neck can be the precipitant of tension-type headache, or be the etiology of the headache as with cervicogenic headache.”

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

“Cervicogenic headache has been described for many years by clinicians of varying professions and specialties. 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 the headache are extremely important.”

Gallagher R, Cervicogenic Headache; A special report. Expert Rev. Neurotherapeutics 2007;7(10) 1279-83


“There is clear neuroanatomical evidence that demonstrates a relationship between the cervical spine and the facial and head region.”

Mark B. Cervicogenic headache differential diagnosis and clinical management: literature review. J Craniomandibular Practice 1990; 8:332-338.

bottom of page