Almost every adult has experienced at least a minor headache, but what happens when the pain becomes unbearable or even chronic? And how does one distinguish between the pounding intensity of a major headache and the severe pain that comes along with a migraine? If your discomfort is getting in the way of your routine, it’s time to get answers.
Summer and Migraines by Dr. María Alejandra De La Peña
If the pain surrounding your head, face and neck feels like a band of pressure, you’re experiencing a tension headache. Tension headaches are extremely common as they affect 42% of the adult population. They can be episodic or chronic in nature and can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, or any sort of strain to the neck and jaw. Their counterparts, cluster headaches, cause pain on just one side, typically behind the eye. They are more cyclical in nature, lasting for anywhere from 6-12 weeks followed by periods of relief.
Headaches themselves are a symptom of migraines, a much larger issue at hand. The headaches associated with migraines usually occur on one side of the head, but can occur on both sides, and symptoms can last for hours or even days. Migraines are somewhat trackable, as they happen in four distinct phases:
- Prodrome is basically a warning stage where your mood is affected. You may feel high or low, happy or irritable. Your senses may also feel heightened, leaving things smelling or tasting off, and your body may feel tense and tired.
- Aura is the sensation one feels when they experience blind spots or see odd patterns or flashing lights around shapes. Motor and verbal auras are less common but can also occur at this stage.
- The headache stage is a sign of the pain stage. This is when the sufferer experiences all the throbbing, pulsating, pounding, drilling, and/or burning head pain.
- Postdrome is the “hangover” part of migraines. It may linger for several hours to days after the headache’s pain subsides and may be accompanied by exhaustion, difficulty focusing, dizziness, and stimuli sensitivity.
- Migraines or chronic headaches can be debilitating, excruciating, and diminish the quality of sufferer’s life, but with treatment, the pain can be managed and in some cases even prevented.
At Spine and Wellness Centers of America, we use evidence-based treatments to treat chronic migraine pain using Non-Surgical or Minimally Invasive pain relief techniques backed by science. We create a long term treatment plan individualized to you, your unique pain and your goals using cutting edge pain relief. One of the most popular treatments offered is Botox, as it is minimally invasive while being maximally efficient. People who use Botox for their headache pain report more “pain-free” days per month. Looking at the science behind this unexpected solution, we see that Botox acts as a blocker for neurotransmitters that would otherwise signal pain to the brain. The Botox injections prevent that pain from reaching the nerve endings in your head and neck. The number of injections will differ per patient, but sufferers can expect to find some relief in 2-3 weeks after their first treatment. The most important part of your treatment is your communication with your specialist. As no person is the same, no headache or migraine is the same, and by truly listening to your concerns and symptoms, at SWCA we can prescribe the best plan of action for you.