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Embark on a captivating voyage through time as we delve into the intricate history of migraine, a condition that has traversed centuries, leaving its mark on humanity’s narrative. As a Headache Clinician deeply entrenched in the realm of Physiotherapy, I am intrigued by the rich tapestry of events and individuals that have shaped our understanding of migraine. Join me on this illuminating journey as we navigate through the annals of history, exploring pivotal milestones and noteworthy figures who have illuminated the path towards a deeper comprehension of this enigmatic condition.


Ancient Origins:

  1. 3000 BCE: Earliest Known Accounts:

The earliest documented descriptions of migraine can be traced back to ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt, where cuneiform tablets and hieroglyphic inscriptions depicted symptoms akin to modern-day migraine attacks.

  1. Hippocrates (460–370 BCE):

Revered as the “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates provided one of the earliest clinical delineations of migraine, coining the term “hemicrania” to describe the unilateral throbbing headache commonly associated with the condition.

Middle Ages to Renaissance:

  1. Galen (130–200 CE):

Galen, a towering figure in ancient medicine, expanded upon Hippocrates’ teachings, elucidating the concept of “megrim” and attributing its origins to disturbances in bodily humours and imbalances in temperament.

  1. Paracelsus (1493–1541):

The Renaissance era witnessed the emergence of Paracelsus, whose alchemical pursuits led him to postulate theories connecting migraine to the concept of “vital force” and disruptions in the body’s innate equilibrium.

Modern Era:

  1. Edward Liveing (1828–1919):

In the 19th century, Edward Liveing’s seminal work “On Megrim, Sick-Headache, and Some Allied Disorders” provided a comprehensive clinical exposition of migraine, laying the groundwork for subsequent research and treatment modalities.

  1. William Gowers (1845–1915):

William Gowers, a pioneering neurologist, made significant strides in elucidating the visual aura phenomenon associated with migraine, recognising its neurological underpinnings and advancing our understanding of migraine pathophysiology.

  1. Graham and Wolff (1938):

The seminal research of Harold Wolff and A. D. Moskowitz in the late 1930s marked a watershed moment in migraine research, as they demonstrated the pivotal role of neurovascular mechanisms in migraine pathogenesis, laying the foundation for modern migraine therapeutics.

  1. International Headache Society (1981):

The establishment of the International Headache Society in 1981 heralded a new era of collaboration and standardisation in migraine research, fostering the development of universally accepted diagnostic criteria and treatment guidelines.

Contemporary Advances:

  1. Neurological Paradigm Shift:

In recent decades, a paradigm shift has occurred in our understanding of migraine, with mounting evidence supporting its classification as a primarily neurological disorder characterised by abnormal neuronal excitability and cortical spreading depression.

  1. Watson Headache® Approach:

The Watson Headache® Approach, pioneered by Dean Watson, represents a groundbreaking advancement in the management of migraine and cervicogenic headache, emphasising the identification and treatment of sensitised upper cervical structures through manual therapy techniques.



As we traverse the annals of history, we witness the evolution of our understanding of migraine from ancient mystique to modern scientific inquiry. As a Headache Clinician immersed in the realm of Physiotherapy, I am inspired by the legacy of trailblazing individuals and transformative discoveries that have illuminated the path towards effective migraine management. By embracing this rich historical narrative, we can glean invaluable insights that inform our approach to migraine treatment and propel us towards a future of enhanced patient care and well-being.

For personalised guidance and support in navigating the complexities of migraine, contact Sydney Headache and migraine Clinic today to schedule a consultation with our experienced team. Together, let us embark on a journey towards effective migraine relief and improved quality of life.

Written by:
Marinus Du Preez Sydney Headache and Migraine Clinic
Marinus Du Preez
Principal Headache Clinician



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