Pain anywhere in your body may slow you down, but if your head hurts, it may be hard to do even the simplest tasks. Almost everyone experiences a headache now and then, but according to the World Health Organization, only about 4% of people have headaches that recur so often that they’re considered chronic headache disorders.
Though this may seem like a low percentage, it still means that millions of people suffer from 15 or more headaches per month, which translates into a decreased quality of life, missed school and work, lost wages, financial burdens, and, of course, pain.
If you’re one of the millions of people who deal with constant headaches, our pain specialists at CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, with multiple locations in Maryland, can help. Whatever the underlying cause of your headaches is, we offer effective treatments that can reduce their frequency and intensity, so you can get on with your life.
What constitutes a recurrent headache?
Most recurrent headaches fall into the primary headache category, meaning they’re a medical condition in and of themselves and not a symptom of a separate problem. These types of headaches include:
- Tension headaches
- Cluster headaches
Both children and adults can suffer from recurring headaches, but in order to classify as a chronic disorder, they must occur at least 15 times within a 30-day period. Symptoms include:
- Throbbing or tightening in the head
- Moderate to severe pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sensitivity to sound and light
These types of headaches can be caused by genetics, environmental factors, nerve stimulation, muscle tension, hormonal activity, or a combination of these.
Treatment for recurrent headaches
As you’d expect, the treatment for recurrent headaches is entirely dependent on the cause, so the first thing we do is get to the bottom of the problem. We start by getting to know you, your symptoms, and your medical history. We often recommend keeping a headache diary to help us identify connections between your symptoms and possible triggers. Stress, foods, chemicals, and sleep disorders are just a few of the potential culprits.
We also perform a comprehensive physical exam to look for certain diseases or musculoskeletal causes. This may include a blood test or exams to check the function of your kidneys, liver, and thyroid.
We may also perform nerve tests, so we can see if you have any neurological damage that we need to address. Once we determine the cause, we can recommend an effective treatment plan, which may include:
Conservative treatments often relieve pain without the need for medication. Physical therapy modalities can strengthen your body and retrain your musculoskeletal system to reduce stress on your spine and neck.
Massage therapy can relieve pressure on compressed nerves. And biofeedback therapy can help you understand when and how your body responds to pain, so you can mitigate it by controlling certain functions, such as heart rate, muscle activity, and blood pressure.
Electrical nerve stimulation may also help by interfering with the pain messages your nerves send to your brain.
If certain habits are the culprit behind your condition, lifestyle changes may be in order. Avoiding caffeine or not using tobacco products may stop your headaches if they’re the root of your problem. And taking steps to ensure a full night’s sleep may also alleviate certain types of headaches.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs) may be all you need to abate your headache pain and get through a flare-up. However, it’s not a good idea to use these daily for a long period of time. Other medications may be more effective for chronic headaches. They may include the following:
Antidepressants may be helpful as well if you also suffer from depression when your headaches occur.
At CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, we also offer interventional pain management techniques, such as steroid injections — called occipital blocks — which can relieve cluster and migraine headaches.
If you suffer recurring headaches, it’s time to seek help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.