Headaches and Migraines
A headache can be pain anywhere in the head and upper neck, and is the most common source of pain. There are numerous causes for the headaches and migraines, which led the International Headache Society to create an updated classification system in 2007 with three major categories:
- Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches
Headaches by Type
Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache and are experienced by 90% of adults at some point in their lives. They are most prevalent in women.
Migraine headaches are the second most common, afflicting 28 million people in the United States alone. Both children and adults can experience migraines, but after puberty, they are most likely to occur in women. Approximately 6% of men and 18% of women will, at some point in their lives, experience a migraine.
Cluster headaches are a rare form of the primary type, affecting about 1 in every 1,000 individuals. These headaches are most common in men in their twenties, although they can be present in women and children.
Secondary headaches are those which are attributed to an underlying problem in the head or neck like a tumor, bleeding in the brain, or a condition like meningitis.
Cranial neuralgia refers to a group of headaches caused by inflammation of the nerves in the head and upper neck. This category also includes facial pain.
Causes of Headaches and Migraines
Even though tension headaches are far and away the most common type, their cause has been attributed to excessive contraction of the muscles around the head.
Migraines are a much more complex condition, with severe pain that may require the patient to retreat to a cool, quiet, dark room for hours at a time. Often accompanied by a warning aura, the severe pain of a migraine may be set off by something as simple as a strong odor, certain foods, missing sleep, glare from lights, or menstrual periods.
Treatment of Headaches and Migraines
Mild headache complaints may require nothing more than taking an over-the-counter pain medication, getting a neck rub, or lying down and relaxing, while migraines can be so severe as to require the use of anti-seizure drugs and powerful painkillers. Obviously in the case of secondary headaches, some effort must be made to address the underlying condition including imaging to look for tumors and, possibly other tests.
Although manageable for most people, anyone with chronic, severe headaches should get a check up to make sure the pain they are suffering is not a symptom of another illness.
Diagnostic Testing & Treatments
When evaluating patients with long-lasting headaches or migraines your physician may order tests or procedures to rule out possible causes of your pain if your condition is unusual, complex or suddenly becomes more severe. Tests and diagnostic procedures may include: blood tests, Computerized tomography (CT) scans, or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRIs).
Meet Our Neurologists
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of headaches and migraines. Dr. Shimizu, Dr. Chang, Dr. Jordan and Dr. O’Connor all treat patients with migraines and severe headaches. If you suffer from migraines or headaches and need a specialist contact one of them to schedule an appointment today 310-829-5968.