Headaches can be extremely disabling when they become frequent and severe. Some people experience headaches more than 15 days each month. Headaches take a toll at a personal, professional and recreational level.
Fortunately, there is a lot that doctors can do to help those with severe headaches. In addition to a wide variety of medications, there are new techniques that can provide significant relief.
Treatment techniques for headaches differ for each type:
- Migraine and tension headache sufferers with pain originating in the back of the head, front of the head and temple area can benefit from different types of nerve blocks. Nerve blocks are when a group of nerves that cause pain are blocked with the injection of a nerve-numbing medication.
- Botox is the only medication FDA-approved for chronic migraine. Botox was approved in October 2010 for treatment of migraine, but many patients are not aware of its use for this condition.
- People suffering from cluster headaches can benefit from different types of nerve blocks or an implantable stimulator, which moderates nerve activity.
- Cervicogenic headaches, which are headaches that affect one side of the neck, can be treated with injections and nerve blocks.
- People with occipital neuralgia, which causes pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes, are typically treated with nerve blocks and potentially with a device that freezes the nerve and often resolves pain.
There are also devices that can relieve headache pain:
- The use of a device that targets the nerves in the forehead, called Cefaly, has shown success in treating episodic migraine. In this device, implantable nerve stimulators are programmed to stop pain signals to the brain.
- Another device recently available is a vagus nerve stimulator, which has been used for both migraine and cluster headaches. This device is applied to the neck to stimulate the vagus nerve, which is the longest nerve in your brain.
- Even magnets have a role in the treatment of headaches. Magnetic stimulation has been shown to relieve migraine with aura, which is a migraine preceded or accompanied by visual disturbance or sensory symptoms.
If you have headaches that persist even after using over-the-counter medications, there is a lot that headache specialists can do to help.
Call 985-875-2828 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Maria Carmen Wilson at the Comprehensive Headache Center in Covington.