Headaches are pretty common with most people in today’s busy world. Sometimes they occur due to random medical conditions. However, they are mostly the result of dehydration, stress, staying up all night, physical exertion, and more. All of us have experienced this type of general headaches at some point in our lives. But the cases of chronic headaches are different.
With it, aching doesn’t just disappear after applying a cold pack or massaging. In fact, it stays for 15 or more days. If you are the one who is suffering from the same issue, you are not the only one. More than 45 million people in the United States face chronic headaches. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin can be effective for mild or moderate level headaches. But if this does not help and your ache keeps getting worse, you have to visit the pain doctor for effective treatment.
What Are The Types Of Chronic Headaches?
Chronic headaches have many types. One of the most common types of all is a tension-type headache. It causes pain in both sides of your head and is often caused due to misaligned musculature or stress. Patients experience mild to moderate level pain due to this.
Another common headache type is migraine. This is more painful compared to tension headache and usually results in pain in one side of your head. Sometimes, it is so throbbing that you may experience light sensitivity or nausea because of it.
Cluster headaches are another type of this pain. They usually occur over a period of specific time (weeks or even months). Patients with this condition experience a severe headache on one side of the head.
The last type is Hemicrania Continua. It is quite the same as migraines and causes intense pain on one side of the head.
No matter what type of chronic headache you are suffering from, it is essential to consult with a pain doctor. It helps you determine the condition type and also confirm if it is a symptom of any other serious health condition or not. If you are experiencing any of the following, consider it as a red flag and visit your pain expert immediately:
- Debilitating pain
- Overuse of over-the-counter medicines
- Headaches more than twice per week
What Are The Causes Of Chronic Headaches?
Chronic headaches can be the result of several factors — from mild to extremely serious. Caffeine and overuse of over the counter medicines are some of the most common causes of constant headaches. Some other causes include:
- Bad postures
- Brain tumor
- Traumatic brain injury
- Infections such as meningitis
- Intracranial pressure
Symptoms of Chronic Headaches
Chronic headache symptoms significantly vary depending on its types. For instance, migraines can cause pulsating pain and sound or light sensitivity. It also results in vomiting or nausea. On the other hand, cluster headaches can cause severe pain in one side of the head or around one eye. It can last for several weeks and stops abruptly before beginning again in some days. Here is the list of some other common symptoms you may experience while suffering from chronic headaches:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- The feeling of pulsing, throbbing, or tightening
- Tearing up or redness in the eyes
How The Pain Doctor Can Help You Defeat Chronic Headaches
When chronic headaches get severe, they leave ripple effects on your body. You may experience debilitating pain while headaches wreak havoc on your ability to perform everyday activities. In short, it can make your normal life extremely challenging and affect your bonding with your dear ones. If not addressed, unfortunately, you are more likely to get trapped in a vicious cycle of frustration, guilt, and irritability.
The above-mentioned phases do not necessarily occur in every case. However, partnering with a skilled pain doctor and letting him or her know all about your daily symptoms is the best way to combat chronic headaches. It helps you undergo an effective treatment plan with the assistance of pain management professionals. They are the ones who have expertise in managing such kinds of cases with comprehensive treatments. With a holistic approach, they treat the source of pain in the first place. Then, by integrating other treatment programs (if necessary), they help you get back to your normal life as soon as possible.
Here are the 5 ways your pain doctors can help you when you are suffering from chronic headaches.
They Know What Medications Are The Most Effective In Headache Management
Your pain doctors know the effects of medications on your specific headache condition. Drugs such as beta-blockers, anti-seizure medicines, and antidepressants do not necessarily work similarly for all headache conditions. It needs a professional to figure this out.
Pain doctors carry a high level of experience and training that is necessary to diagnose and treat different types of chronic headaches. General physicians, on the other hand, are specialists in a particular field. However, pain doctors have adequate knowledge of multiple medical fields. Treating chronic headaches requires expertise in both interventional medicine and functional medicine. Pain management specialists know how to integrate both of these aspects of medicine and develop an effective treatment plan based on the individual needs of their patients.
They Have A Variety Of Treatment Options
Chronic headaches can come in various forms. A customized treatment plan and a unique approach are necessary for treating each type. Pain doctors can evaluate the individual needs of the patient’s condition and prepare an effective treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:
- Occipital nerve stimulation
- Behavioral therapy
- Botulinum toxin
- Anti-seizure medications
They Are Well Aware Of All Types Of Chronic Headaches
Understanding the source of the headache is highly important for the treatment. Your pain doctor can evaluate your symptoms and figure out if the pain is the result of any underlying condition. For instance, if your headache is caused by some type of inflammation, your pain doctor works on reducing it first in order to offer your relief. If the pain is coupled with some other psychological conditions like stress or depression, they offer integrated treatments to treat all of the conditions individually.
They Can Guide Your Effective Lifestyle Changes
Certain lifestyle changes can deliver excellent results for treating your chronic headache. Your pain doctor can help you with certain suggestions on lifestyle changes. It not only helps you avoid triggers of a headache but also supports pain management.
This can include the following activities:
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoid using caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Maintaining proper posture while walking, sleeping, and sitting
They Treat Headaches With Multidisciplinary Approach
Chronic headaches can take a major toll on your physical and psychological health. As it has adverse effects on several other things as well, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to treat the pain. By this we mean your treatment plan should involve different care programs. It may include one or more from injections, interventional procedures, massages, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, medication management, and much more. Pain doctors can understand how the pain can vary from patient to patient and based on that, they develop a special treatment plan that primarily caters to you and the needs of your condition.
What Is The Right Time To See A Pain Doctor For Chronic Headaches?
When experiencing constant pain in your head, the correct diagnosis from a reputable pain doctor is necessary. You should immediately book an appointment with one if you are experiencing one or more symptoms mentioned below:
- When over the counter medicines do not work and headaches get worse
- Headache occurs thrice or more in a week
- You are using over the counter medications every day to get relief from headaches
- When exertion or strenuous activities start triggering headaches
- Headaches start disturbing your daily routine including work, appetite, school, or more
In some cases, constant headaches can be the symptoms of more severe health problems such as meningitis or stroke. Consider urgent medical assistance if you are experiencing one or more from the following:
- Headache caused due to the head injury
- If you are experiencing nausea, stiffness in the neck, vomiting, or high fever along with the headache
- Sudden intense headaches occurring frequently
- Headaches co-occurring with other neurological issues such as difficulty in focusing, speaking, walking, numbness, confusion, and coordination issues.
Even though your general physician is well aware of most of the health and physical conditions, he or she is not trained at the same level as a pain doctor when it comes to chronic headaches. At the beginning of the last decade, only 4 medical schools offered a course dedicated to pain in the entire US.
Pain doctors, after the completion of medical school, undergo additional training that is specific to the chronic pain treatments. Such residencies, fellowships, and internships deepen their knowledge about this field. They use all of these resources to offer relief from the suffering and improve your quality of life. Moreover, they have access to certain tools and equipment that plays a major role in chronic pain treatment.
Therefore, if you or someone you love is experiencing chronic headaches, do not think twice before having a word with a reputed pain doctor near you. A variety of treatments are available for it, and it’s your pain management specialist who knows the best about which treatment plan you should be on.