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Cluster Headache

About Cluster Headache

What Is A Cluster Headache?

Affecting only 0.1% of the population, Cluster Headache is one of the few headache disorders predominantly affecting men (5-6 times) more than women. This headache type is regarded as the most excruciating to experience, quite commonly recording the highest levels of pain scores. 

Cluster Headache Diagnosis

How Do We Diagnose A Cluster Headache?

Classified by the International Headache Society (IHS) under a collective called Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias, this group includes SUNCT/SUNA, paroxysmal hemicrania and hemicrania continua. It is characterised by the presence of distinct autonomic features such as a watery eye or runny nose but only on one side.

The distinctive feature of this type of headache is that ‘attacks’ occur in clusters. They will often just ‘appear out of nowhere’ every 12 months to two years. The severe pain can last for 30-45 minutes, often at night, but each episode may occur up to eight times a day. People will often describe the pain building up in severity until it reaches a crescendo before gradually settling down over the 45 minutes.  This process repeats itself on a daily basis, gradually getting worse over time before slowly settling down and disappearing 6-12 weeks later. In between these periods of severe headaches, a long period of remission will occur lasting from months to years where the person has no headaches at all.

Cluster Headache Symptoms

Head pain

Severe pain behind or around the one eye

Can radiate around face, head and neck

Unileteral head pain


Restlessness Breathing Difficulties

Eye discomfort

Redness in the eyeWatery adn teary eye

Swelling around eye and eyelid

Dropping of eyelid


Runny or congested nose

Treating Cluster Headache With The Watson Headache® Approach

Cluster Headache Treatment

Treatment is focused on treating the acute pain episodes but also trying to find the root cause of the headaches. The acute pain is quite often treated with strong pain medications but also combined with supplemental oxygen.

We have found that dysfunction in the neck can be a primary driver of these types of headaches. The Watson Headache® Approach focuses on addressing the underlying mechanical dysfunctions in the upper neck causing the referred pain to the head.

Skilled physiotherapists trained in the Watson Headache® Approach utilise specific manual techniques to assess and treat dysfunctions in the cervical spine Treatment by a skilled practitioner can decrease the intensity, frequency and duration of the attacks but also lessen the duration of a cluster as well.

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