Headaches: An Interview with Jodie Zollner The Dean Watson Method

How long have you been treating Headaches?

I have always had an interest in treating Headaches and Migraines as I am a migraine sufferer myself.  As part of my Professional Development I completed the Level 1 ‘Watson Headache Approach’ in 2006, then went further with the Level 2 in 2011.  This approach for the treatment of Headaches changed the way I viewed Headaches and have used this method ever since.

What is the Dean Watson Method?

The Dean Watson Method is a manual therapeutic method that systematically assesses and identifies the neck joints that are responsible for symptoms of headache and migraine.  The treatment involves restoring the function in the involved neck joints as well as normalising the activity in the brainstem (the base of the brain) that regulates pain in the head/face and neck.

The underlying disorder in Headaches and Migraine is a sensitive or overactive brainstem. This method aims to desensitize the brainstem or ‘Headache centre’ for long term results.

Were you trained by Dean Watson himself?

Yes it was a privilege to be taught by Dean Watson himself in all levels of my training.

What can patients expect in their first treatment session?

In the first appointment a patient can expect to have a thorough assessment including a detailed history, safety screening and key clinical tests to determine if the source of the Headache or Migraine is from the neck joints.  This will also determine if they are in the 80% of sufferers in whom the neck can be used to desensitize the brainstem or ‘turn down the volume’ in the Headache centre.

The physical examination involves assessing posture, mobility and then performing gentle sustained stretches in the top 3 joints of the neck to temporarily reproduce the Headache symptoms. This stretch will be sustained until the symptoms resolve thus confirming your neck is involved and treatment can then commence.

How long does it take for patients to start seeing improvements?

A patient can expect to see significant improvements in headache symptoms within 5 treatment sessions within a 2 – 3 week period.  It is important to have treatment sessions at regular intervals initially to effectively desensitize the Headache centre.

What should the patient do at home to assist their recovery?

Patients will be given posture strategies and advice on how to prevent future headache episodes.  In addition they will also be give specific exercises to be performed at regular intervals during the day to assist in the self management of their Headache and Migraine.