Chronic and recurring headaches are among the most common medical problems affecting both men and women in the U.S. and throughout the world. Headaches can be caused by many different factors, including stress and strain on the muscles and spine, herniated discs and nerve impingements, spinal diseases and traumatic injuries from car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and other incidents. Some underlying diseases or medical conditions can cause headaches and so can some medications and vision-related problems. Because headaches can take a significant toll on a person’s everyday life, getting prompt and effective treatment is essential.
Migraines are severe, recurrent headaches often associated with nausea, visual disturbances, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The exact underlying cause of migraines is still being studied, but most researchers believe both nerve- and circulation-related issues play a role.
Cluster headaches are severe headaches that occur in cycles, with a group of headaches occurring in a short space of time, followed by an interval with no symptoms and then followed again by recurrent pain. As with migraines, the cause of cluster headaches isn’t completely understood, but many medical researchers believe the hypothalamus gland may play a role in triggering these recurrent headaches.
Headache treatment depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms. Prior to any treatment, a comprehensive medical history and physical exam often accompanied by bloodwork and other lab testing will be performed. Imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans or MRIs may also be ordered. Possible treatment options include:
Physical therapy can also play a role in relieving some types of headaches. When an underlying disease or medical condition is causing headaches as one of its symptoms, treatment will focus first on those diseases in addition to relieving painful symptoms.