Headaches and Headache Treatments

A headache (or cephalalgia in medical terms) is a condition of pain in the head. Sometimes, upper back or neck pain may also be interpreted as a headache. Headache ranks amongst the most common local pain complaints and may be frequent for many people.

What Causes Headaches?

The vast majority of headaches are benign and self-limiting. Common causes include tension, migraine, eye strain, dehydration, low blood sugar, and sinusitis. A migraine is a neurological syndrome characterized by altered bodily experiences, painful headaches, and nausea. It is a common condition which affects women more frequently than men. When the headache occurs in conjunction with a head injury, the cause is usually quite evident. A large percentage of headaches among women are caused by ever-fluctuating estrogen during menstrual years. This can occur prior to or even during midcycle menstruation.

Treatment of an uncomplicated headache is usually symptomatic, using over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen. Some specific forms of headaches (for example, migraines) may demand other more suitable treatment. It may be possible to relate the occurrence of a headache to other particular triggers (such as stress or particular foods), which can then be avoided.

What Are the Different Types of Headaches?

Yes, there are actually different types of headaches, depending on the cause or location of the pain. The four main types of headaches are vascular, myogenic, cervicogenis, and chronic progressive headaches.

Vascular Headaches

The most common type of vascular headache is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, for some people, disturbed vision. It is more common in women. While vascular changes are evident during a migraine, the cause of the headache is neurologic, not vascular.

Myogenic Headaches

Myogenic or muscular headaches appear to involve the tightening or tensing of facial and neck muscles; they may radiate to the forehead. Tension headache is the most common form of myogenic headache.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches originate from disorders of the neck, including the anatomical structures innervated by the cervical roots C1–C3. Cervical headache is often precipitated by neck movement and/or sustained awkward head positioning. It is often accompanied by restricted cervical range of motion, ipsilateral neck, shoulder, or arm pain of a rather vague non-radicular nature or, occasionally, arm pain of a radicular nature.

Chronic Progressive Headaches

Chronic progressive headaches (also known as traction or inflammatory headaches) are symptoms of other disorders, ranging from stroke to sinus infection. Specific types of chronic progressive headaches include:

How to Get Headache Relief

Not all headaches require medical attention, and many respond with simple analgesia (painkillers) such as paracetamol/acetaminophen or members of the NSAID class (such as aspirin/acetylsalicylic acid or ibuprofen).

In recurrent unexplained headaches, healthcare professionals may recommend keeping a “headache diary” with entries on type of headache, associated symptoms, precipitating and aggravating factors. This may reveal specific patterns, such as an association with medication, menstruation or absenteeism or with certain foods. It was reported in March 2007 by two separate teams of researchers that stimulating the brain with implanted electrodes appears to help ease the pain of cluster headaches.

Chronic Migraines

Productivity in school and work can be affected by chronic migraines problem. A worker may skip his job for a day due to migraines. Habitual absenteeism can result from migraine headaches in many students. But how do you know you have chronic migraines?

What is Chronic Migraines?

Chronic migraines are headaches experienced by an individual for more than fifteen times each month in a span of three months. Chronic migraines are severe enough to be disabling such that the affected person may not be able to work for half a month or more. Chronic migraines are considered more disabling than paraplegia angina, acute psychosis and blindness and of the same level  of disability as dementia and quadriplegia. Therapies are usually not enough to reduce the impact brought about by the chronic migraines.

What Triggers Chronic Headache?

There is no sole cause for chronic migraines but some triggers such as lack of sleep, lack of food intake, bright lights and caffeine have been identified. Headaches are said to progress steadily until the frequency reaches for about 15 times a month and severity increases to consider it as chronic. Each year, a considerable number of people with just an episodic type of migraine develop chronic migraines. However, the chronic migraines regress back as episodic migraines to almost the same number of persons whose migraines progress to chronic levels.chronic headache.

Chronic Headache Symptoms

Symptoms of a chronic migraine are moderate to severe pain affecting one side of the head. A throbbing, pulsating sensation at one side of the head. The headache is worsened when the same person performs a physical activity such as cleaning and walking.

Chronic migraines can be treated in the same way that episodic migraines are cured. The cure involves the oral intake of prescription painkillers, over the counter painkillers and specific drugs such as triptans.

Causes of Chronic Headaches

Other causes of chronic migraines include a disorder in the central nervous system, chemical imbalances, vascular irregularities and genetic factors.

A neurological condition can trigger chronic migraines. An interruption of the nerve pathway and the matching of all chemicals for proper brain function can also cause a chronic migraine. The existence of a close family member such as a parent or sibling who has experienced chronic migraines can also increase your risk of experiencing the same headaches. Problems in the shape and size of the blood vessels as well as to the blood flow to or within the brain can cause migraine headaches.

Magnesium for Migraines

magnesium migraine headaches
Migraine headaches may be caused by magnesium deficiency.

Are you suffering from chronic migraines; then why not try magnesium for migraines? A lot of migraine sufferers have tried every kind of migraine headaches treatment available in the local pharmacy. Many are desperate to find the cure that will relieve them of migraine headaches for good.

Magnesium for migraines have been recommended by medical practitioners. Doctors found that persons who experience migraines have magnesium deficiency compared to those who do not have migraines. Numerous studies have also proven that magnesium can lower the frequency of migraine attacks in persons with low levels of magnesium. One study even recorded a reduction of 41.6 percent of the frequency of attacks in persons who take magnesium which is about 26 percent more reduction than persons who take placebo for migraines. Magnesium has also been proven to be helpful to ladies whose migraines occur when they have their menstrual periods.

How Magnesium for Migraines Work

The infusion of magnesium to the body of the migraine sufferer causes the quick and sustained relief even to an acute migraine patient. A chronic oral magnesium supplementation can also reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Refractory patients usually benefit from intravenous infusion of magnesium sulfate. It has been concluded that magnesium concentration influences serotonin receptors, NMDA receptors, nitric oxide release and synthesis.

Administering Magnesium for Migraine Headaches

As a mineral, magnesium is found in many of the foods we eat. Foods that contain magnesium are seeds, nuts, soy products, bananas, green leafy vegetables, bananas, legumes and avocados.However as migraine headaches treatment, supplementing magnesium in the form of oral medication is needed. For severe cases of migraine headaches, intravenous supplementation can be prescribed by your attending physician.

Magnesium is considered one the most abundant intracellular cation, making it necessary for intracellular processes and can be essential in migraine pathogenesis. Oral and even intravenous magnesium can be easily availed and are considered very safe and inexpensive while being highly effective. Empiric treatment with oral magnesium is suggested for all migraine patients. The lack of magnesium may also cause cortical spreading depression, low serotonin receptor function and hyperaggregation of platelets.

Magnesium is a mineral for the production of protein as well as for the production and transport of energy.It also keeps bones strong, normalizes muscle operation, keeps the heart rhythm steady and supports a healthy immune system. Magnesium is also essential for proper nerve function, thus making a natural cure for migraines.

Can Botox Help Reduce Migraine?

Can botox help reduce migraine headaches? Not all patients can successfully respond to oral treatment given by doctors to patients with chronic migraine. This is the reason why some patients find other ways to treat or find relief to reduce migraine symptoms.

Botox-A or Botox or OnabotulinumtoxinA was approved in 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the US as a treatment for migraine and is now widely used as a treatment for chronic migraine. Botox is an injectible medicine that contains toxic bacterium known as clostridium botulinum.

Botox has been used for reducing wrinkles which usually appear on the skin of aging persons and is injected to skin portion where wrinkles appear. However, it can also be injected in many doses to specific portions of the head particularly in the forehead, temples, back of the head and the upper back and also in the neck to treat migraine. Immediate relief does not happen right away upon injection performance of botox treatment. Instead, initial relief happens only after 10 to 14 days. There are even patients who do not respond after the initial set of injections but additional treatments within a 15 month span are always successful. A treatment is given once in three months within this 15 month period.

botox migraine
Botox to treat migraine is now possible.

Doctors recommend Botox treatment only after other treatments such as migraine medicines are not effective or when the patient does not reliably tolerate migraine medications. Botox treatment may be expensive for migraine treatment but some health insurance providers cover expenses for migraine treatment using Botox.However, it is still best to discuss this option with your insurance company prior to undergoing Botox treatment. Some health insurance companies require some tests before they cover expenses for Botox treatment.

Just like any other medicines, Botox can result to some complications and side effects. The most common side effects are stiffness at the injection site, headache as well as neck pain. There may also be temporary muscle weakness at the neck and upper shoulders, making the patient uncomfortable when keeping his or head upright. However, these side effects fade away as days go by. Botox treatment when applied is painless and only gives a little sting during each injection. The side effects and the sting are considered minor discomforts leading to headache-free days.