Here’s what you need to know about those persistent headaches and how you might treat them

Stock image, St. George New

FEATURE — If you suffer from headaches, there’s a possibility you may have been struggling unnecessarily for years. What many people don’t realize is that there are different types of headaches, which means there are different treatment options.

The first step in treatment is visiting your health care provider to determine what type of headaches you may be experiencing.

One type of headache that is generally undertreated or not diagnosed is a cervicogenic headache. These types of headache are actually caused by the neck. They usually affect one side and spread from the base of the neck to the temple and eye areas.

Common symptoms include a steady, nonthrobbing pain at the neck or base of the skull, sometimes extending down between the shoulder blades. Because of the location, most of the pain is felt in the head, even though the problem is originating from the spine.

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or sounds and feeling pain down one or both arms. The neck can also become stiff, causing difficulty with neck movement.

Photo by natalie_board/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

A cervicogenic headache generally comes and goes but then progresses to an almost continuous pain. Symptoms can be triggered by any stress to the neck and spine, poor posture, excessive physical activity and even positioning. Pain usually starts after a sudden neck movement, such as a sneeze.

If you already know that you have disc problems in your spine, your risk for cervicogenic headaches increases. Your provider may order x-rays, a CT scan or MRI of the cervical spine (neck) and perhaps nerve testing to help diagnose your pain. In some cases, a neurologist may be consulted.

Because headaches can be difficult to diagnose, it is important to keep a headache diary. A headache diary should include the following:

  • Headache severity noted regularly from morning, afternoon and evening on a scale from 0-10 (zero being no pain).
  • Headache duration.
  • Headache symptoms.
  • Medication use, including over-the-counter medications.
  • Triggers that may be causing or aggravating the symptoms, such as foods, certain activities, et cetera.

You can share this information with your health care provider, already armed with specific information that will help them with your diagnosis.

Various treatments include stopping “offending” foods or activities, using over-the-counter medication, adding other types of medications, nerve blocks, epidural injections and even chiropractic.

As always, continue or start a healthy diet, get enough sleep and “de-clutter” stressors in your life. Visit with your provider to see what options you may have for your specific headache diagnosis.

Written by MELISSA HINTON, Desert Pain Specialists.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •

About Desert Pain Specialists

Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff at Desert Pain Specialists are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain.

Desert Pain Specialists is located in the new Riverfront Medical Center, 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301 in St. George. The team has additional offices at 1760 N. Main St. in Cedar City and 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600, in Mesquite, Nevada.

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