Chronic Headache Treatment | Chronic Migraines
What is Chronic Headache Pain?
The pain of a headache is something that nearly everyone can relate to, and most people will experience headaches from time to time during their lives. But for people who experience constant, severe headaches or chronic migraines, the life-altering pain is debilitating and greatly affects their quality of life.
Dr. Tollestrup and his team are committed to helping chronic migraine and headache sufferers take their lives back with nerve surgery for chronic headaches.
What causes chronic migraines?
Most common causes of chronic headaches include:
Nerve damage may cause chronic headaches
If you’re had a workup from a headache specialist and have exhausted your options for medical therapy to no avail, the cause for your headaches may be an injury or compression to one or more of your peripheral nerves.
Injury or compression to the nerves in the back of your neck and head (such as the greater occipital nerves, lesser occipital nerve, third occipital nerves) or in the front of the face by the eyes (supratrochlear, supraorbital, and zygomaticotemporal nerves) are common, and severely under-recognized, causes of chronic headaches.
Whiplash is a common cause of chronic headaches
Chronic migraine-type headaches are especially likely to be due to some type of underlying peripheral nerve pathology if there is a history of trauma or injury to the head or neck area prior to the onset of the headaches, such as a car accident or sports injury.
One of the most common types of injury that can lead to the development of these types of chronic headaches is a whiplash injury to the neck. Whiplash can produce stretch-traction injuries to nerves and injuries to neck muscles which can lead to scarring and compression of nerves in the neck and base of the skull. When this happens, the patient will often experience constant, severe posterior headaches.
Blunt or penetrating trauma to the face, back of the head or neck can also lead to nerve injury and chronic headaches.
How to diagnose chronic headaches
Whether or not you have a history of physical trauma to the head or neck prior to the onset of your headaches, it is relatively easy to discover if peripheral nerve injury is the source of your headache pain.
We will simply inject local anesthetic around the suspect nerves, putting them to sleep temporarily. If your headache goes away, then that confirms that those are the nerves are causing your headaches.
Can chronic migraines be cured?
Once your nerve injury is diagnosed, we can then move forward on a plan to decompress or disconnect the damaged nerves that are causing your chronic headaches. Nerve surgery for chronic headaches provides dramatic relief for headaches sufferers who may have been at their wit’s end searching for relief from headache or migraine pain.
Do chronic migraines ever go away?
If your migraines or chronic headaches are caused by compression or injury to the nerves in your head or neck, it is unlikely that they will get better on their own, especially if a lot of time has elapsed since the time of injury. Once a nerve is pinched or compressed, the only way it can heal and function normally again is to receive the pressure on that nerve. The most common method we use to decompress headache-causing nerves in the head and neck is with nerve surgery.
Nerve surgery for chronic headaches
If the cause of your headaches comes down to compressed or pinched nerves in your head and neck, surgery may provide the relief you’re looking for. There are two options for nerve surgery to relieve migraine pain: nerve decompression surgery and nerve disconnection surgery.
Nerve decompression surgery gently alters the physical anatomy surrounding the affected nerves, giving them the proper amount of “breathing room” so they can once again function normally. When the affected nerves are decompressed, your headaches should stop altogether or become drastically decreased.
Nerve disconnection surgery permanently disconnects the damaged nerves that are sending pain signals to your brain and causing chronic headaches. This type of surgery is best suited to patients whose affected nerves are non-critical to other bodily processes.
Your doctor will go over your options with you and help you choose which nerve surgery is right for your unique situation and anatomy.
How many migraines a month is considered chronic?
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Can chronic tension headaches be cured?
Other things that can help you find relief from tension headaches include lifestyle changes and medication. Some things that people find helpful when treating tension headaches include OTC pain relievers, prescription pain relievers, antidepressant medication, muscle relaxers, diet changes, physical therapy, exercise, and many more. There are many options for treating tension headaches, so don’t lose hope!
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Dr. Tim Tollestrup and his team can help. Call us at 702-666-0463 to set up a consultation to determine your options.