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Headaches are pain located in the head and face and most people have had a headache or will experience headaches at some point in their life. Comprehensive headache pain management is vital to a patient’s healing process. Our doctors can thoroughly evaluate your pain symptoms in order to accurately diagnose the cause.
Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan that will effectively address your pain based on the type of headache and level of pain you are experiencing.
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I can't say enough good things about Dr Rao, when no one else could tell me what was causing my back pain he helped me find out what the issue was . He is patient and extremely knowledgeable and very good at what he does! I am not surprised that all his staff are kind , caring and patient in their quest to help me have a better quality of life.
Headaches can greatly vary in location, type of headache, level of pain, and how often they occur. While the brain itself does not have pain signals and cannot feel pain (hence why patients do not feel anything when having brain surgery), there are other facets of the head that can lead to you feeling pain from a headache. Some of these parts are the many nerves in the head and face, muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders, and blood vessels. Most people may not be aware, but there are over 150 types of headaches and a headache/migraine is the most common form of pain.
The most frequently experienced primary headaches are:
The most common type of headache people experience is a tension headache, as they occur in three of every 4 adults. Tension headaches can occur from muscles tightening in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and/or jaw. They are often related to stress, depression, and/or anxiety.
Those who have severe tension headaches can have them up to three to four times a week, but most only have mild headaches that occur occasionally. Tension headaches are typically characterized by pain on both sides of the head (bilateral), pain that is dull or even feels like a band or vice around the head, possible sensitivity to light along with nausea/vomiting. Most tension headaches last about 20 minutes to two hours.
This is the second most common type of primary headache and is often more intense than tension headaches, as they are described as a pounding/throbbing kind of pain. Migraines are also accompanied by other physical symptoms, including nausea/vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light, and blurred or otherwise messed up vision. Migraines can last anywhere from four hours to three days and are two to three times more common in women than men.
Migraines have different phases, although not everyone goes through each phase. The first phase is the premonition or prodromal phase and involves a change in mood or behavior before the actual headache. The next phase is the aura phase and involves visual, sensory, and motor symptoms such as numbness or tingling and vision changes. The headache phase is next and is the time when the pounding/throbbing pain occurs, along with other physical symptoms. Lastly, the resolution phase is when the pain starts to subside and people can feel fatigued or irritable after having the headache.
These headaches are not as common as tension headaches or migraines, but are the most severe type of primary headache. Cluster headaches occur five times more often in men than they do women and the usual person that deals with cluster headaches are middle-aged men with a history of smoking.
Cluster headaches are called that because the head pain tends to come in groups or clusters. They generally occur one to eight times in a single day (hence the cluster aspect), during a period from two weeks to possibly three months (often during the same time of year). Individual headaches can last from 30 to 60 minutes and the headaches can completely disappear (what doctors refer to as remission) for months or even years, only to come back again.
Cluster headaches always start on one side of the head, usually behind one eye, and can be throbbing and constant. The eye where the pain is located can become red and water, with a drooping eyelid and small pupil. There can also be swelling of the eyelid, a runny nose or congestion, and swelling of the forehead. Many people suffering from cluster headaches experience a pain so intense that they are not able to sit still and will start to pace or jog in place, which can lead to agitation.
Other types of headaches include:
- Sinus Headaches
- Allergy Headaches
- Caffeine-Withdrawal Headaches
- Fasting Headaches
- Hangover Headaches
- Hunger Headaches
- Hypertension Headaches
- Menstrual Headaches
Most people can alleviate some of these pains by improving their diets, improving their relaxing and sleeping habits, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
Not all headaches require a doctor's attention. But frequent occurrences of headaches can be a symptom of a larger issue. Let your doctor know if you have frequent, sudden, and/or severe headaches. They will be able to determine if more medical attention is necessary.
Headaches are one of the top reasons why people miss work or school. It is not fully known what causes most headaches, but pain does derive from blood vessels, muscles, brain chemicals, and nerves. The unknown part is what triggers these parts to cause pain for most types of headaches.
Migraines (and headaches in general) have been shown to run in families and it is thought that they result from nerve cells reacting to certain triggers. Those nerve cells then send impulses to blood vessels, which then cause pain. Some triggers for migraine can be lighting, noise, alcohol, bad sleeping habits, depression, stress, and changes in the weather.
The biggest way to be able to prevent headaches is to learn what triggers them for you and avoiding those triggers as best as possible. What triggers headaches in you may not trigger them in someone else, so you will need to pay attention to what is happening before a headache starts. For example, if you notice that you tend to get a headache from inconsistent or lack of sleep then you should create a better sleeping routine.
A minor headache is generally not cause for concern and can be treated with over-the-counter medication, drinking more water, and getting some sleep. However, headaches do range in severity and if you believe that your headache is not usual or the pain is too intense, then you should seek out medical assistance to make sure there is nothing more serious or an underlying problem occurring.
If you start to have any of the following symptoms then it is best to get medical assistance immediately:
- A sudden, new, and unusually severe headache.
- Headaches that appear for the first time over the age of 50.
- Headaches that start after a head injury or accident.
- A major shift in patterns to your headaches.
- Headaches that continue to worsen over time.
- Headaches that are accompanied by neurological symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, numbness or tingling, imbalance, difficulties with speech, mental confusion, memory issues, confusion or decreased alertness, and seizures. Fever, shortness of breath, rash, and stiff neck can also occur.
- An inability to complete daily activities because of head pain.
- Headache pain that wakes you up or causes pain and tenderness near your temples.
For any of the following issues you should make an appointment with a medical professional relatively soon:
- Experiencing headaches three or more times a week.
- Persistent headaches that will not go away, even after taking over-the-counter medication and resting.
- Needing to take general pain relievers for most, if not all, days of the week.
- Headaches that occur after physical activity or strenuous work.
If you are suffering from frequent headaches, our physicians are board certified, and are dedicated to giving you a comprehensive exam that will aid in diagnosing the cause of your symptoms. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, our doctors will find out the reason for your pain, and then get you on the road to better health right away. Here are a few steps our physicians use when completing their comprehensive exams:
Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan that will effectively address your chronic headaches.
We offer several treatments that can help relieve headache pain, including:
We believe that comprehensive treatment to chronic pain is the only way to provide the greatest opportunity for long-term benefit and recovery.
At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to quality care, and that is why you can find us conveniently located throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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