March 30, 2013 - Chronic headache pain treatment information
Here are the additional tips Dr. Cassaro promised to add to this week's show summary:
Tip! If you have a headache frequency of one or more a week, then your headaches are considered chronic. Headaches should be a rare event. If you are experiencing headaches frequently, then you might want to look at one of the most common causes - MEDICATIONS! Almost every medication produced (including most headache medications) have "headaches" listed as a possible side effect. Even worse, many people take several medications daily, potentially making the problem worse. Check your medications out, and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Tip! Do your headaches seem treatment-resistant? If you have chronic headaches that are not getting any better despite being treated for them, the answer may not be in your head! A commonly overlooked source of severe chronic headache pain is really due to a nerve problem in your neck. Ask your doctor to perform neck x-rays, do a thorough physical examination, and even perform some specialized nerve testing called an electromyogram (EMG).
Chronic Headache Pain
This week, Dr. Cassaro discussed Chronic headache pain.
There are so many of us that suffer from chronic/recurring headaches. Some of these headaches come and go quickly, other times, they may last for hours or days. The most important thing to consider for relief is to correctly identify the cause of the headache. Headaches are rarely stand-alone conditions; rather they are a symptom of another condition.
Q- Are headaches just a part of life?
A- Not really; they don't have to be. Unfortunately- for many people- they are. Headaches are common because there are several common factors that people with headaches share. Lifestyle, metabolism, and diet all play important roles in determining if someone will suffer from headaches.
Q- Specifically, what are some common causes/triggers of headaches?
A- Here are just a few of the causes for headaches:
- Toxins (workplace, home,etc)
- Neck injuries
- Spinal alignment
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Infections (chronic)
- Nerve injuries
- Blood pressure
- Muscular spasm/contraction
- Rx Medications
- OTC medications
- Back injury
Q- What are some explanations/details of these causes and what are some effective treatments?
Foods that may lead to headache pain are those high in sugar, preservatives, additives, and man-made substances. Also, avoid anything labeled "fat-free, sugar-free, low fat, and low calorie".
Eat only natural foods. Eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and some meats. Stay away from anything processed, including meats. If it's in packaging with a nutritional label; avoid it!
Toxins in the body can come from a variety of places. Chemicals used for cleaning in home/office, paints, insecticides, lawn treatments, pollution, etc. While some of these toxins cannot be avoided, avoid all those you are able.
Use natural cleaning substances in the home, and try to get fresh air on breaks at work. Limit use of strong fabric softeners/cleaners on your clothes, and air fresheners in home/car. Stay as natural as possible.
Injuries to the neck are a very common cause of chronic headaches. Whiplash injuries from an automobile accident or slip-and-fall, or position-related stresses at work.
Injections, topical medications, and chiropractor may help. At home, topical medications and exercise help too. Try soaking in Epsom Salt bath, or take fish oil and glucosamine for relief.
Arthritis in the neck, or anywhere in the body can lead to headaches. Arthritis may allow sensitive nerves in the neck to become pinched; causing headaches. Further, the inflammatory response of any arthritis can contribute to headaches as well.
Epsom salt baths, topical medications, eat right, sleep right, exercise often, Avoid sugar, grains, and carbohydrates. These make arthritis worse, and headaches worse. Staying active is one of the best things you can do. Injections, chiropractor treatment, and prescription topical medications may also help.
Sometimes your neck position at work can contribute to headaches. If you spend a great deal of time with your neck bent down/up or left/right; this can certainly lead to headaches.
Make it a point to stop what you are doing and rotate your neck in every direction often. If possible, rearrange your workspace to avoid having to bend and hold your neck in extreme positions for prolonged periods of time.
Poor digestion and conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome can cause headaches. The inability to excrete waste regularly causes these toxins to build up in the body, and cause headaches.
Make sure you are having regular bowel movements; use a natural laxative (aloe, oils), and get exercise. Mobility leads to motility. Stay away from sugar, and grains, these can cause digestive issues.
This includes physical and emotional. Stress can result from a hectic lifestyle, or recurring pain.
Find ways to relieve stress on your own. A healthy metabolism can help you cope with most types of stress. Find ways to simplify your life, and focus your attention to living healthy. Get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise often.
You may also want to talk with your pain treatment specialist about radio frequency procedures, spinal stimulators, specialized injections, prescription topical medications, and the possibility of referred pain; especially from the neck.
Q- Can medications I take daily lead to chronic headaches?
A- YES! There are too many classes/types of medications that are known to cause headaces than we can list here. Just about all medications have the potential to cause headaches as a side effect. Each person is different, so even though a particular medication may not cause headaches fo the majority of people, that does not mean it is not responsible for causing yours. Talk with your doctor to see if your medication can be changed or discontinued.