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1.  Primary Headaches

A. Migraines

second most common type of headache symptoms

- moderate to severe pain

-  sensitivity to light, noises, odors

-  blurred vision

-  nausea or vomiting or upset stomach

-  abdominal pain

-  loss of appetite

-  sensations of warm or cold

-  paleness

-  fatigue

-  dizziness

-  shifting from side-to-side


-  botox injections

-  surgical options

-  neurostimulation

-  plastic surgery to remove the nerves associated with the migraine pain

-  ear, nose and throat surgery to address sinus-related migraine pain

B. Tension

-  most common type of primary headache

-  pain that wraps around the head causing pressure

-  commonly caused by stress, noises and bright lights

-  intensity may increase with time

-  pain originating in the back of the head moving to the front of the head

-  interrupted sleep cycles

-  depression

C.  Cluster 

-  come in waves with increasing intensity

-  affects men more than women

-  often felt behind the eyes

-  causes not well understood

-  Believed to be by combination of vascular and neurological disorders in head and neck

-  warning signs

-  aura – visual impairment, unusual smell

2.  Secondary Headaches

-  cause is related to structural or functional problem in the head or neck

   -  pain from neck muscles

   -  excessive use of pain killers

Common symptoms of primary and secondary headaches:

-  fatigue                                      -  pulsating pain

-  chills                                        -  loss of appetite

-  numbness, tingling, weakness    -  sweating

-  pain on one side of the head       -  facial pain

Common causes and triggers may include:

-  vasoconstriction                                        -  changes in hormone levels

-  certain foods (dairy, fruit ,chocolates)          -  neurological disorders

-  loud noises                                               -  allergic reactions

-  bright lights                                              -  exercise

-  alcohol                                                    -  emotional stress

-  excessive visual stimuli                            -  interrupted sleep patters 

-  pain from spine related problems               -  certain smells/odors

Common Conditions

Migraine Headache

Tension Headache

Cluster Headache

New Daily Persitent Headache

-  are chronic and unremitting with daily onset

-  usually on both sides of the head

Intractable Migraines

-  similar to chronic daily headache and are severe

-  usually do not respond to conventional treatment

Occipital Neuralgia

-  chronic pain in the upper neck/back of head and behind eyes

-  pain originates from the occipital nerve in the back of the head/upper neck

-  cause is attributed to damage of the lesser and greater occipital nerves

-  commonly treated with nerve blocks, injections or peripheral stimulation

Supraorbital Neuralgia

-  caused by damage or abnormal function of the supraorbital nerves

-  pain is located to the lower forehead and may include upper forehead and scalp

-  can be treated by nerve blocks, injections or peripheral nerve stimulation

Chronic Pain Syndromes

-  of the head/neck can result in severe chronic headaches

-  have underlying vascular or neurological causes

-  often misdiagnosed as Tension, Cluster or Migraine Headaches

Reflex Sympathetic Dystophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

-  characterized by pain that is not in proportion to the apparent injury which caused the disorder

-  pain usually gets worse over time

-  causes are unclear

-  treatment can include physical medicine modalities, psychotherapy, sympathetic nerve blocks, medications, surgical sympathectomy, spinal cord stimulator or Intrathecal drug pumps

Neuropathic pain of the head

-  example is Trigeminal Neuralgia

-  has sudden intense onset with sharp, shooting pain in the head/neck

-  usually has specific triggers

Acute headaches

-  headache with a sudden, rapid onset with intense pain

-  usually short lasting

Adolescent Migraines

-  Migraines lasting longer than adult migraines in adolescents

Treatment Options

- intramuscular narcotic injections to control pain

- nerve block injections

-  epidural steroid injections

-  facet injections

-  surgical removal of nerves

-  implantable neurostimulation device

-  risks of surgery can include, but not limited too:

-  complications with anesthesia

-  blood clots

-  allergic reaction to medication(s)

-  adverse effects due to undiagnosed medical conditions

-  bleeding

-  heart attack

-  stroke

-  kidney failure

-  pneumonia

-  bladder infections

-  infections

-  nerve damage

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Posture and Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain is a miserable experience. Although some cases of neck pain are caused by an injury, many are simply due to poor posture. Poor posture stresses the muscles of the neck and can cause muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. Over time, the stresses of poor posture on the neck can cause degenerative diseases to develop in the discs and bones of the neck. Forward head A very commonly seen posture that puts a lot of strain on the neck is the forward head. The individual habitually thrusts the head forward, carrying it out in front of the shoulders. In this position, the weight of the head is constantly pulling on the spine and the shoulders. Sitting for hours hunched over a desk or a computer is a common cause of forward head. Many people with this habitual forward head carriage suffer from sore shoulders as well as a sore neck. Over time, the vertebrae at the base of the neck (C5 and C6) can develop painful degenerative conditions due to the constant weight of the head pulling on them in the forward head posture. Correct posture A correct posture is one that keeps the spine in alignment. Some people call it a neutral or balanced posture. One exercise to encourage a neutral posture is to focus on opening the chest wide as you try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Once your chest is open, bring your head into alignment. Think of a string pulling up the top of your head and lengthening the neck. When you do this, your chin will tuck in and your head will naturally shift into proper alignment with your spine. Do the open chest/ string exercise multiple times a day. Other exercises to build better posture are head nods and chin tucks. To do a head nod, slowly nod your head slightly up and down without moving your neck. To do chin tucks, tip your nose down toward the ground and move the top of your head backwards. Repeat head nods and chin tucks several times a day. These exercises strengthen the muscles on the front of the neck. Individuals with habitual forward head posture usually have very weak muscles in the front of the neck. If you've worked hard at correcting your posture and you are still suffering from neck pain, why not give us a call?

Note: The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither BPF Specialty Hospital, or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.