FAQs on Headache Treatment in Las Vegas NV

Millions of people suffer with chronic headaches. The symptoms you experience depends on the type of headaches you have. The most common kind of headache is tension-type headache.

What are the different types of headaches?

The most common kinds of headaches include:

  • Tension-type headache – The pain of this type of headache is felt on both sides of the head, and is often described as a band-like sensation.
  • Cluster headache – With this headache, the pain is most always on one side of the head, and it often occurs at night or during sleep. The pain is severe, with associated symptoms of eye drooping, eye watering, nasal stuffiness, and conjunctiva redness. Men are more often affected than women.
  • Migraine headache – The pain of this headache is often on one side of the head, described as throbbing and severe. It occurs with associated visual symptoms (aura), which include seeing flickering lights, zig-zag lines, spots, and spectra.

How common are headaches?

Headache is the most common neurological condition seen in the primary care setting. Based on current statistics, the prevalence rate of tension-type headache is 52%, and the rate for migraine headache is 16%.

What is the cause of a headache?

Certain things trigger (bring on) a headache. These include:

  • Certain foods
  • Sleep problems
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Sinus and allergy problems
  • Muscle tension

How are headaches diagnosed?

If you are suffering from headaches, the pain specialist will ask you several questions regarding your symptoms. In addition, the doctor will take a detailed medical history and conduct a physical examination. Diagnostic tests are often used to rule out serious medical conditions that cause head pain. These tests include laboratory tests, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging scans.

How does the doctor treat headaches?

The treatment you receive depends on the frequency of the headaches, the type of pain, the cause of the headache, and the pain severity. Options include:

  • Medications – The pain specialist may use a combination of medications to treat your headaches. Commonly prescribed agents include topiramate, antidepressants (nortriptyline and amitriptyline), valaproic acid, and gabapentin. For immediate relief, abortive agents are prescribed, such as Maxalt and Imitrex.

 

  • Botox injections – Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) is a strong neurotoxin used for the prevention of certain headaches. Injections are given at the forehead, temples, jaw, and back of neck. The muscle paralyzer alleviates spasms and tension. According to a recent clinical study, Botox is effective for reducing frequency and severity of migraine headache.

 

  • Occipital nerve block (ONB) – This minor procedure involves injecting a long-acting anesthetic near the occipital nerves at the posterior region of the head. In a recent research report, the majority of people who had ONB for occipital neuralgia reported long-term effectiveness.

 

  • Acupuncture – To restore body energy, stimulate endorphin release, and alleviate headache pain, the pain specialist may recommend acupuncture. Fine needles are inserted into the skin and muscles of the back of the neck and other body areas. According to a clinical study, acupuncture is more effective than placebo for head pain relief.

 

  • Radiofrequency denervation – The pain specialist can destroy a portion of the cervical (neck) spinal roots using radiofrequency energy. The doctor inserts a special needle and probe into the tiny facet joints along the spinal column. This procedure has a 75% success rate, according to a recent clinical study.

Resources

Lee, JB, Park, JY, Park, J, Lim DJ, et al. (2007). Clinical efficacy of radiofrequency cervical zygapophyseal neurotomy in patients with chronic cervicogenic headache. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 22(2), 326-329.

Palmisani, S, Al-Kaisy, A, Arcioni, R et al. (2013). A six year retrospective review of occipital nerve stimulation practice – controversies and challenges of an emerging technique for treating refractory headache syndromes. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 14 (67). doi:10.1186/1129-2377-14-67

Siberstein, S, Mathew, N, Saper, J, & Jenkins, S (2000). Botulinum toxin type A as a migraine preventive treatment. BOTOX Migraine Clinical Research Group. Headache, 40(6), 445-450.