If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s nothing worse than getting a headache — especially since they always seem to appear at the wrong time. In fact, studies suggest that more than half the population has experienced at least one headache in the past 12 months.
Perhaps the only thing worse than getting one or even several headaches every year is having to live with a headache disorder — characterized by recurring headaches. Headache disorders are the most common neurological disorder and can severely impact your quality of life.
As damaging and destructive as headache disorders are, only a fraction of those living with it is diagnosed correctly and they remain heavily under-recognized and under-treated in the world today. The good news is you can find help and you can improve your quality of life.
Headache disorders are generally treated by first learning and understanding the triggers associated with the headaches. Once the triggers are identified, your doctor or physician can properly customize a treatment plan that’s designed to meet your unique and specific needs.
That treatment plan often consists of stress management, biofeedback (breathing rate, pulse, heart rate, temperature, muscle tension, brain activity), medication (pain relievers, triptans, analgesics, anti-migraine medication), and positive/healthy changes to your daily lifestyle.
In addition to that, there are a variety of other things you can start doing today to help prevent or reduce symptoms of a headache disorder. For example, you can avoid triggers, avoid overusing medication, get enough quality sleep every night, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
One of the reasons why some people might not see results with their treatment is due to an improper diagnosis. In fact, only a small fraction of patients with headache disorders receive a correct diagnosis and it’s largely due to the lack of awareness, attention, and education.
In order to achieve the appropriate diagnosis, your doctor will run a series of tests and exams to get a better feel for your current health state. These tests include a physical exam, neurological exam, psychological evaluation, blood chemistry, urinalysis, CT scan, MRI, X-rays, and more.
Not only that, but your doctor will ask you a series of questions to understand the history of your headaches, the triggers, and the various symptoms you’re experiencing. They’ll likely have you fill out a headache journal to better manage and monitor your triggers, symptoms, and history.
Achieving the correct diagnosis is heavily dependent on your doctor’s ability to determine the type of headache disorder you’re experiencing. There are a number of different types, but they’re broken down into one of two classifications of headache disorders — primary headaches and secondary headache disorder.
A primary headache is one that appears without the presence of another underlying condition. Some of the most common types of primary headache disorders include migraines, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, paroxysmal hemicrania, and medication-overuse headaches.
Secondary headaches are those that are caused by an underlying disease or condition. They aren’t the only problem the patient is experiencing and treating the headache usually consists of treating the underlying condition. There are a number of different types of secondary headache disorders.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common headache disorders:
Migraines often appear on a recurring basis, whether that be once per week or once per year. They’re caused by inflammation around the nerves and blood vessels located in the head. Migraines are very painful, can last for hours or days, and are often associated with nausea.
Tension-type headaches are the most common type of primary headache disorder and are characterized by increased pressure around the head like you’re wearing a headband that’s too tight. Episodic TTH occurs less than 15 days/month, while chronic TTH occurs more than 15 days/month.
Cluster headaches are much more common in adult men (above the age of 20), but are relatively uncommon overall. These headaches can occur several times per day and are characterized by aching, watery, and red eyes, runny nose, blocked sinus, and droopy eyelid.
Medication-overuse headache, also known as MOH, is a headache that’s caused by taking too much medication to treat a headache. It’s the most common secondary headache disorder and is generally at its worst in the morning or upon waking up. It affects women more than men.
Paroxysmal Hemicrania is a rare type of secondary headache. It’s characterized by sudden and recurring attacks that are focused on one side of the head. Most patients experience increased pressure and tightening behind the eye. Eye issues and nasal congestion are common with PH.
Hypnic Headaches are a rare type of primary headache that only occurs while a patient is sleeping. They can happen several times throughout the night and generally occur several hours after falling asleep. The pain is often felt on both sides of the head and nausea is also common.
Headache disorders can destroy a patient’s quality of life one headache at a time, which is why most patients will do whatever it takes to reduce their symptoms and live a normal, healthy life — so long as it’s safe and effective, of course. With that said, we introduce to you Deep TMS.
Deep TMS is a non-invasive, drug-free alternative to medication and while it’s largely designed for those living with depression, OCD, addiction, and anxiety, it also has growing support for a variety of off-label conditions — including headaches, migraines, insomnia, and much more.
The treatment involves activating your left prefrontal cortex with the use of electromagnetic fields, which travel deep into your brain via a helmet you wear on your head. The treatment only takes 20 minutes and you usually do it once per day Monday-Friday for 4-6 months at a time.
If you’re interested in learning more about Deep TMS and how it can help reduce your headache symptoms, contact Colorado Recovery Solutions today! We can’t wait to meet you!