Gaining the Upper Hand on Chronic Headaches

If you have chronic headaches, you don’t have to resign yourself to just living with them. There are things you can do to help prevent getting them. And, if needed, medical treatment is available as well.

John S. Michels, MD, of Interventional Spine & Pain in Dallas specializes in pain management, especially when it comes to managing headache symptoms. He understands how crippling headache pain can be, and he’s committed to treating the cause of your headaches to help you find lasting relief. 

What are headaches?

There are actually 150 types of headaches, and they have different symptoms, causes, and treatments. The most common types of headaches are the following:

Tension headaches

These headaches usually feel like there’s a tight band around your head. Besides head pain, you may feel tenderness in your scalp, shoulders, and neck. Tension headaches can last for 30 minutes to a few days.

Migraines

People with migraines often report a pounding, throbbing pain. Migraines can last for hours or even days, and they can occur frequently. You might experience light sensitivity, nausea or vomiting, and loss of appetite during a migraine. 

Cervicogenic headaches

Cervicogenic headaches are caused by arthritic joints in your neck. Inflammation of these joints causes irritation of the nerves that run up the back of your head and behind your ears.

Causes of headaches

What causes headaches aren’t well understood, but experts believe there are a number of factors that can contribute to headaches. They include:

Keeping a headache journal and tracking what kinds of symptoms you have and how often they occur can help Dr. Michels better assess your situation and recommend treatment. 

What can I do about my headaches?

The best way to deal with headaches is to prevent getting them. And there are things you can do to help keep them at bay. They include the following:

Reduce your stress

If your work, social, or home environments are stressful, this can lead to more headaches. Try stress-relieving strategies, such as taking a few minutes to sit quietly and breathe deeply. By taking a moment to clear your mind and calm your nerves, you may be able to keep from getting a headache.

Get some exercise

Even 30 minutes of regular exercise or quick stretches can relieve any physical stress you’re feeling. Physical stress can put tension on your whole body and trigger a headache. 

Avoid triggers

Figure out what things set off your headaches and avoid them if possible. A trigger could be a certain food, a lack of sleep, a lack of water, or skipping meals.

Medical help

While changing your lifestyle habits can help you fight back against headaches, sometimes medical intervention is necessary. Dr. Michels has a number of treatments that can relieve headache symptoms, including cervical facet injections/rhizotomy, occipital nerve blocks, and Botox® injections for migraines. 

With cervical facet injections, Dr. Michels blocks the nerves that send pain signals from irritated facet joints that trigger headaches. If a patient receives significant temporary relief from the blocks, rhizotomies can be performed (burning the nerves utilizing a special needle) which provides long term headache relief. 

With occipital nerve blocks, Dr. Michels injects pain-relieving medicine into the region of the affected nerve to reduce swelling and inflammation. You should feel relief within minutes. 

With Botox for migraine treatments, the medicine is injected into specific places in your head and neck. The Botox then blocks neurotransmitters from reaching the affected nerves. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry pain signals from your brain to the rest of your body. Blocking them can reduce or eliminate any pain.

Don’t go another day carrying the weight of headache pain. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Michels today.

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