Headaches are one of the most prevalent disorders of the nervous system. Sufferers can experience varying levels of severity, according to the World Health Organization. The different causes of headaches are misunderstood by most people. This is particularly true for those dealing with migraine headaches. There’s a tendency to believe that once an individual has been diagnosed with migraines, any and all of their headaches must be migraines. Dr. Sloane Yu, an interventional pain medicine physician at Allied Pain & Spine Institute, sets the record straight regarding this common misconception. She explains that individuals suffering from migraines will also often experience other types of headaches. In other words, migraine sufferers are not immune to the dozens of other headache disorders.
Headaches are a common experience, according to The Migraine Trust. Almost everyone will have a headache at some point in their life. Yet, when it comes to classifying headaches, the medical system has many types and causes. Perhaps the most important distinction to make is the difference between a headache and a migraine. Generally speaking, unlike migraines, a headache is not accompanied by nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity or noise sensitivity. Headaches may be associated with an illness, head injury, infection, tension in the neck and shoulders and other conditions. However, migraine headaches are related to specific triggers. Some of these are environmental or based on genetics. They may also include dehydration, hypoglycemia, diet, menstruation, hormonal fluctuations, jaw tension and stress. Individuals that experience headaches do not necessarily suffer from migraines. However, those that experience migraines will often suffer from other types of headaches. With this in mind, a proper diagnosis is critical to the successful treatment and relief of headache pain.
Diagnosis Is Key
Migraine sufferers may experience other types of headaches. They can range from chronic daily headaches to occipital neuralgia (headaches from irritated nerves), cervicogenic headaches (relating to neck pain), medication overuse headaches, cluster headaches and more. Treatment will differ, depending on the cause and source of the pain. So, getting a proper diagnosis is crucial. In fact, in the case of an aneurysm headache, obtaining the right diagnosis can be life-saving.
Consider the following account, as told by Dr. Yu:
“I had one patient who struggled with migraines for most of her life, but she had them well controlled with treatment. She sprained her ankle running and started taking ibuprofen for pain. She noticed that her headaches were getting worse, and migraine medication was not working. To cope, she took more ibuprofen. By the time she saw me, her headaches were daily and unremitting. After going through a thorough history and exam, it was decided that this was probably not her standard migraine. She actually had a medication overuse headache. This is a type of headache that is actually caused by using too much pain medication. After stopping ibuprofen use, her new headache went away. She then returned to her much more comfortable baseline.”
Personalized Pain Management For Your Headache Pain
There are varying causes of headache pain and many misunderstandings regarding migraines. Individuals will benefit from a multidisciplinary team of professionals when seeking the right diagnosis and treatment.
At Allied Pain & Spine Institute, we place a high premium on a patient’s quality of life and wellness. This drives our passion for delivering personalized care. If you are suffering from ongoing headache pain, contact our experienced team today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. James Petros, Allied Pain & Spine Institute