Skip to main content

Physiotherapy as a First Step Intervention for Migraine Headaches

Physiotherapy as a First Step Intervention for Migraine Headaches

Physiotherapy as a First Step Intervention for Migraine Headaches

This course includes
46:47 of Course Material (View)
Lifetime access after purchase
Certificate of completion

Course Description

This introductory course presents an evidence-informed rationale for why physiotherapy services can and should be used as an effective approach for managing migraine headaches.

The evidence presented includes dozens of peer-reviewed papers that span decades as well as observations about how the relevant research has changed over time. Additional topics covered include a glimpse into diagnostic criteria, diagnostic accuracy, and the potential perils of managing migraine headaches pharmacologically.

Toward the end of the presentation, example cases are presented as is a theory that helps explain why migraine headaches exist. By the end of this introductory course, participants will be prepared either to educate their patients about migraine headaches or to learn how to manage migraines with orthopaedic manual therapy in a clinical setting.


Course Objectives

  1. Become familiar with background information in preparation for learning how to evaluate and manage patients with migraine headaches
  2. Gain a preliminary understanding of the topic so as to assist with educating and referring patients with migraine headaches
  3. Provide a clinical definition of migraine headache as well as a theory explaining why migraines occur
  4. Review evidence regarding the role of regional interdependence in the manifestation of migraine headaches
  5. Present two cases as examples of potential outcomes when using orthopaedic manual therapy to successfully manage migraine headaches



This online course is for physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants, chiropractors, massage therapists, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, patients, and anyone else interested in understanding what decades of evidence says about migraine headaches and how they might be managed successfully with rehabilitation services.


What's Included:

  1. A review of the select peer-reviewed scientific evidence regarding migraine headache epidemiology, diagnostic criteria, and diagnostic accuracy
  2. A brief discussion of the potential pitfalls of using pharmacology to manage migraine headaches
  3. A thorough review of decades of evidence regarding regional interdependence as it relates to the clinical manifestation of migraine headaches
  4. Presentation of the general timeline involving peer-reviewed scientific evidence and management strategies for migraine headaches
  5. Presentation of two testing/treatment techniques that can be used when providing rehabilitation services for migraine headaches
  6. Presentation of two cases involving the successful and partially successful implementation of manual therapy and Biopsychosocial strategies for migraine headaches
The instructors
Stephen Shaffer

Dr. Shaffer is a bilingual (English-Spanish) clinical specialist, educator, and scientist with seventeen years of experience in the physiotherapy profession. After graduating with a master’s degree in physiotherapy he went on to complete residency, fellowship, and academic doctoral training in advanced orthopedics. Initially, he spent years traveling the United States as a traveling physiotherapist but currently works in private practice in Ontario, Canada. During his career he has specialized in the evaluation and management of spinal, extremity, jaw, and headache disorders. Additionally, his professional experience has involved extensive time managing chronic pain as well as both complex and rare cases. In clinical practice he places an emphasis on research-informed evaluation and management as well as manual therapy, clinical reasoning, and shared decision-making. Dr. Shaffer prides himself on making sound decisions on behalf of his patients and strives to ensure that they gain maximal benefit from their healthcare experiences.

In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Shaffer is a researcher with experience on topics related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and advanced practice physiotherapy rights. He also has experience teaching post-professional courses on cervical spine, jaw, and headache disorders. Currently, he is an active member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT; and is credentialed through the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (CAMPT; When not busy with these activities, Dr. Shaffer leads a team of contributors for the AAOMPT Podcast (, an interview show that addresses a wide array of topics related to orthopedics, and serves as a peer reviewer for an array of scientific journals.

Course Material included in this course
  • Handout - Physiotherapy as a First Step Intervention for Migraine Headaches
  • Handout - Physiotherapy as a First Step Intervention For Migraine Headaches
  • Video Lectures - Introduction
  • Part 1 - Introduction, Session Outline, Session Goals, and Take Home Message
  • Feedback
  • Video Lectures - An Introduction to Why Physiotherapy Can Be Used as a First Step Intervention for Migraine Headaches
  • Part 2 - Prevalence and Impact, Defining Migraine
  • Part 3 - Diagnostic Accuracy
  • Part 4 - Pharmacological Management
  • Part 5 - Regional Interdependence
  • Part 6 - Research Timeline
  • Part 7 - Testing & Treatment Examples
  • Part 8 - Case Studies
  • Feedback
  • Video Lectures - Closing Thoughts
  • Part 9 - The CNS Bucket Theory, What to do Next
  • Feedback
© 2024 Embodia