If you, or a loved one, suffer from migraines or cluster headaches, you know the agony an episode entails. Out of desperation, you’ve probably sought treatment from a variety of doctors. The pain may have gotten so bad you’ve spent many nights in the emergency room. While there is no cure for these excruciating ailments, there are plenty of ways to manage the pain in order to lead a more comfortable life with little to no discomfort.
While both conditions attack the same area of the body, they are very different, yet similar treatment plans can provide relief.
What’s a Migraine?
If you’ve suffered a migraine, there’s a good chance you’ll never forget the way it made you feel. These throbbing headaches can potentially last for days, and are accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Often, the suffering is worsened by light and sound, making it impossible to function normally.
The path to diagnosis for migraine sufferers can be arduous. Before it can be identified, other causes have to be ruled out – which means some testing needs to be completed. Your doctor will guide you through a variety of tests based on your symptoms.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are a good place to start when treating the symptoms for most headaches, but they may not be effective enough to cut the edge off a migraine. If you’re a chronic migraine sufferer, it may be time to seek longer-term options. Many patients find a regimen of Botox helps prevent migraine episodes. Others find solace in occipital nerve block injections – a procedure that involves introducing medication into the specific nerves to stop migraines in their tracks. Both types of injections require follow-up care, as they are not a permanent solution. Your doctor can help you schedule your treatments based on your unique situation.
What’s a Cluster Headache?
Cluster headaches don’t have the same name recognition as migraines, but if you’ve had a cluster headache, you know these painful episodes just keep on packing a punch – often to return, bearing intense pain for the plagued. Instead of the throbbing induced by migraines, sufferers feel burning pain, can cause the eyes to tear, and is concentrated on one wide of the head.
If you or your doctor suspect cluster headaches are the cause of your strife, he or she will probably recommend an MRI and a CT scan to rule out any systemic issues, and make a proper diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, you have a few options for treatment. Your doctor can recommend oxygen therapy, which can help combat symptoms from home. For patients seeking a preventative approach, steroid injections that target the occipital and suboccipital nerves can provide extended periods of relief. Similar to migraine treatment, Botox can also be used as a preventative.
Headaches are never fun, but these two types can cause long-term disability when left untreated. No one wants to go through life in this type of pain. Ask your pain specialist how to control your migraines or cluster headaches, and get started on your injection regimen today.