Ask anyone who’s ever had one – there are all sorts of headaches – tension headaches, sinus headaches … and then, there are migraines.
Whereas most headaches vary in intensity and can be relieved with aspirin, ibuprofen, or other medication, migraines are more intense, and entirely different beast than normal headaches, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light.
But the more you know about migraines and head pain, the better you’ll be able to manage or even prevent them.
It’s All in Your Head
There are no less than 17 types of headaches, ranging from primary and secondary headaches to cranial neuralgias (inflammation of the nerves in the upper neck and head) to facial pain.
The primary types of headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types. Secondary headaches are those caused by infections, such as encephalitis or meningitis, substance abuse, hangovers, or excessive use of certain medications.
Tension headaches are the most common primary headaches, affecting 1 in 20 people on a daily basis according to the World Health Organization. Migraines are a close second, affecting children as well as adults, although they occur more often in women. These throbbing, painful headaches are usually confined to one side of the head and can be triggered by a variety of circumstances, including hormonal changes, certain foods, anxiety and stress, a lack of food or sleep, or flashing lights.
The good news is that there are many effective treatment options for migraines and other types of head pain. A bona fide pain management specialist can help fine tune a treatment plan for your level of pain.
Putting an End to Chronic Headaches
Treatment for head pain depends on the frequency and severity of your condition. Many headaches can be treated with various pain-relieving medications that include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and triptans, which block the brain’s pain pathways by forcing blood vessels to constrict. Opioid medications are also sometimes used to treat migraines, but only if no other treatments provide relief, since they contain habit-forming narcotics.
Migraines can also be treated with preventive medicine such as beta-blockers, anti-depressants, and anti-seizure medications. For example, small doses of ketamine delivered via intravenous infusion has been known to swiftly and significantly reduce the severity of migraines and alleviate pain for up to several weeks.
If your chronic headaches are caused by irregularities in your cervical spine, chiropractic adjustments can reduce or eliminate your head pain.
Lastly, there are alternative or nontraditional therapies to treat migraines and other types of recurrent or chronic headaches including massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, and herbs, vitamins, and minerals. However, ask your pain doctor if these treatments are right for you.
The pain management specialists at Balcones Pain Consultants in Austin, Texas not only offer therapy for pain relief and healing, but also can answer any questions you may have. Call (512) 834-4141 to discuss your condition and learn about our options for pain relief. We have locations in Austin, Cedar Park, and Market Falls, Texas.