HEADACHE & MIGRAINE PAIN
What is headache & migraine pain?
- Headache and migraine pain is a very common form of pain that has many causes.
- Headaches occur when pain sensitive structures in the brain/scalp become overactive or begin to develop problems. These can be caused through chemicals in the brain, nerves or blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of headache & migraine pain?
The symptoms of headache and migraine pain may include:
- Moderate to intense throbbing or pounding inside your head, this often begins as a dull ache and develops as time progresses
- Varying amounts of pressure building up in the head depending on the severity of the headache
- Hearing a constant ringing sound which can worsen as the headache/migraine becomes worse
- Neck pain
- Visual disturbance. Some people may experience auras during or before a headache or migraine. Auras impact vision and can cause flashes of light, floating dots, distorted vision, blind spots and even in some cases temporary loss of vision.
Who is at risk of headache & migraine pain?
- Anyone can be at risk of headaches and migraines and most people can expect to have a minimum of one or two headaches per year.
- In some more extreme cases, individuals will experience headaches/migraines daily.
- Headaches and migraines can also be a genetic condition, which is why it is important to know your family health history and see if you are more at risk.
- Gender can be another factor which can influence if a person is at risk of getting a migraine. Migraine is 3 times more common in women than men. During female hormonal changes especially during a menstrual period the risk will also increase.
There are many headache causes including:
- Emotional stress – this is considered the most common cause of headaches/migraines. When a person is experiencing stress/anxiety chemicals in the brain will be released as means of defence. This is referred to as the “flight of fight” response. This will also bring on the side effect of a headache or a migraine.
- Sensitivity to specific chemicals, especially those found in foods – chemicals such as preservatives and MSG can react with a person’s body in a negative way, even foods that are fermented or pickled may lead to a headache/migraine.
- Sex can also lead to headaches – as sexual excitement builds during intercourse, especially at the moment of orgasm. This may sometimes lead to the dull aching sensation in your head.
- Sinus issues and blockages can build pressure in your head and eventually lead to headaches/migraines
- Headaches are rarely a sign of serious underlying disease such as cancer, but persistent headaches must be investigated to rule out serious conditions.
What are the treatments of headache & migraine pain?
- For mild headaches, over the counter(OTC) medications such as paracetamol or aspirin may help ease the symptoms. You will need to be careful as taking OTC medications can lead to Medication Overuse Headache(MOH) and Chronic Daily Headaches.
- Another self-administered treatment that can help reduce the effects of a headache/migraine is to massage your scalp or apply pressure with your fingers in a circular motion on your temples.
- As many headaches are caused by stress it is also important to keep your body in a calm state. Activities such as meditation, mindfulness and slow breathing may help in relieving stress.
- Sydney Pain Management Centre also offers a range of multidisciplinary headache treatments including, injections, Botox®, anti inflammatory treatments and antidepressants.
- Pulsed Radiofrequency Ablation of Occipital and other nerves surrounding the head can be effective for chronic headaches.
- Neurostimulation is a very effective and long term option for the ones who fail other treatments. SPMC pain specialists will assess and tailor treatments to your pain.
- In some extreme cases persistent and severe migraines can be the result of a brain tumour pressing against the skull and the brain. In the case where the headache is keeping you up at night or not responding to medication you may need to get a CT/MRI scan to check for tumours which will require other treatments.