Pain Relief Treatment for Headaches & Migraines Milwaukee
To be properly treated, it is essential that your type of headache be accurately diagnosed. Headaches occur frequently, yet various subtypes require very different treatments.
Tension Headache Pain Management
Although tension headaches are very common, the causes aren’t completely understood. There are certain factors that commonly contribute to tension headaches. Stress, poor diet and lack of sleep are three common causes for tension headaches. Typically tension headaches fall under two categories: episodic or chronic. Episodic tensions headaches occur less than 15 times a month where chronic occur more than 15.
Symptoms of a tension headache:
- Dull, achy head pain
- Tightness usually around forehead but can be felt on scalp, neck or shoulders
- Pain usually occurring on both sides and spreads down the neck
- Pain is usually moderate to mild
- Pain lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days
- Mild feelings of nausea may occur
Prolotherapy for Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are caused by an excessive contraction of the muscles in your head and neck. Prolotherapy is a series of injections of natural solutions designed to stimulate the growth and repair of ligaments and tendons. By thickening these ligaments and tendons, muscles will relax and decrease your tension headaches.
Migraine headaches are classified as a neurological disease, one which tends to run in families. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, the condition affects 38 million men, women and children in the United States—approximately 12% of the population.
Migraine headaches disproportionately affect females, with women accounting for 85% of chronic migraine sufferers. Migraines are characterized by intense throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting and sensory complaints. Migraines are sometimes preceded by a visual disturbance, known as an aura, which can include vision loss in one or both eyes, seeing flashing lights or zigzag patterns, and even visual, auditory and olfactory hallucinations.
When a migraine hits, it is usually not possible to push through the pain in hopes it will go away. Migraine pain often involves missing commitments like work or events. In the US, the cost of healthcare and lost productivity due to migraines has been estimated to be as much as $36 billion per year.
Various over-the-counter migraine medications can be effective when taken at the onset of headaches. There are also preventive medications preparations given to decrease the chance of migraines starting and to reduce their severity when they do start. These can be taken by mouth, through nasal spray, or by injection.
Chronic migraines are characterized by the following:
- Experienced 15 days out of the month for three consecutive months
- Untreated pain more than eight days every month
- Nausea and/or vomiting
There are a wide range of treatments available to people who suffer from migraines, including:
- Prescription medication
- Hormone treatments
- Nerve blocks
Medications commonly prescribed for migraine prevention:
- Tricyclic antidepressants can reduce migraine frequently by altering the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain, although they often have side-effects such as drowsiness, constipation, weight gain and dry mouth.
- Anti-seizure drugs like Topamax can reduce the frequency of migraines for many patients, but not without side-effects. In high doses, or after prolonged use, many patients report dizziness, nausea, weight gain, tremors, hair loss, memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
- Nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Naprosyn are often helpful at reducing the severity of migraines.
Milwaukee Pain Clinic Approach to Treating Migraines
Before Dr. Pollack prescribes any treatment, an accurate diagnosis is essential. Dr. Pollack prefers to try natural approaches first, as these have fewer side-effects (or none at all) compared to many of the prescription drug approaches. Neural therapy and prolotherapy have been shown to be highly effective in treating migraines for many patients at the Milwaukee Pain Clinic. Botox injections are also highly effective in treating migraines. Botox, when injected into the muscle belly, relaxes the muscle thus decreasing surrounding inflammation and resulting in pain relief. Botox treatment is ongoing, usually with injections every 12 weeks.
Cluster headaches predominantly develop in men and, as the name suggests, they occur in cycles. They develop suddenly and last for minutes to hours. The pain of a cluster headache is severe, unilateral, and described as a burning or piercing pain. A cluster headache is usually associated with a watery eye, lid droopiness, and nasal congestion. It is difficult to be still and affected individuals frequently pace around. Alcohol and cigarette smoking frequently trigger the pain.
Treatment consists of:
- Prophylactic/preventive medications
- Injections for fast results (Usually sumatriptan/Imitrex)
- Nasal sprays (lidocaine)
- Oxygen inhalations
- Ergotamine tartrate (a prescription medicine based on the ergot fungus)
Is Surgery Ever Prescribed for Cluster Headaches?
Surgery is generally regarded as a last resort for patients who have not found relief from any other treatment plan, and many doctors are reluctant to recommend it due to the possibility of side effects worse than the headaches.
The most common surgical intervention seeks to block the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensations of heat or pain in the face. There are also surgical approaches involving the implantation of electrodes near the occipital nerve, removal of a vascular loop in the brain which is compressing a nerve, and gamma knife surgery.
Cluster Headache Treatment at the Milwaukee Pain Clinic
Dr. Pollack uses non-invasive approaches to treating cluster headaches—including neural therapy and prolotherapy, both completely safe and effective.
If you believe you have cluster headaches, contact our clinic to schedule a consultation. Once you have been properly diagnosed, we will recommend a treatment plan.