Any type of headache is unwelcome. If your headaches or migraines are chronic, they can be debilitating. It is essential that you do not let the pain and suffering caused by chronic headaches and migraines interfere with your quality of living. A pain specialist can help you understand and treat your condition to live your life as normally and comfortably as possible.
A headache is defined as "pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a viselike quality. A headache may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation, or a dull ache. Headaches can develop gradually or suddenly and may last from less than an hour to several days." Headaches or migraines are considered chronic if you have more than 15 of them in a month. Headaches can either be primary, meaning that they are a condition on their own, or secondary, where they occur as a side effect of a particular medical condition. There are several different types of headaches, each carrying various symptoms.
A tension headache is the most common type of headache. It can be chronic if it occurs more than 15 times a month. Symptoms of a tension headache include:
Cluster headaches come in cycles and are considered one of the most painful headaches. These headaches usually hit without warning. They can awaken you in the middle of the night and last for weeks. Fortunately, these headaches are rare. Symptoms of a cluster headache include:
A sinus headache is typically associated with a sinus infection. Symptoms of a sinus headache include:
You could be in danger of a medication overuse headache if you have any headache disorder for which you take medication, either over the counter or prescription. These headaches may occur daily. When you take medication to deal with the headache, symptoms might subside until the drug wears off. Symptoms of a medication overuse headache include:
A migraine headache can be debilitating. Some people who suffer from migraines will experience a warning sign in the form of an aura before the headache begins. Auras are usually visual perceptions such as a flash of light, shapes, or even vision loss. Once the actual migraine begins, symptoms include:
The causes of chronic headaches and migraines can be complicated. Some headaches, like sinus headaches, have an apparent related reason. The causes of most other types of headaches are still somewhat of a mystery. As a patient becomes accustomed to their chronic headache condition, they begin to identify what triggers their headaches. Common headache triggers include:
The following groups are at greater risk for migraines:
Some complications are possible from migraines. These include:
There are a few steps you can take to try to prevent the onset of migraines.
The first step to effective treatment is a confirmed diagnosis. A variety of factors diagnoses the condition of chronic migraines. Your doctor will ask you to track your headache activity for a month or more before your appointment. They will then look at the following factors before making a diagnosis:
Traditionally, chronic migraine conditions have been treated through acute and preventive treatment accompanied by lifestyle changes. It has become common practice for a patient to treat their symptoms and side effects early on.
Preventive therapies include a combination of medications combined with non-medication therapies and lifestyle changes.
Traditional medication preventative treatments have included medications in the following categories:
Recommended lifestyle changes include:
The non-medication therapies standard in the treatment of chronic migraine include the use of:
If you are suffering from chronic headaches or migraines, the Dr. Sandra Thompson with the Pain Center of San Diego might be able to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for more information.
Our entire practice revolves around helping patients feel better. Pain is a fact of life until it interferes with the joys of living. Sandra Thompson, MD, and The Pain Center San Diego have innovative and comprehensive solutions to all forms of discomfort.
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