New Treatments for Headache Pain
Headache pain can be debilitating and often affects the quality of one’s life. Headaches can occur at any time for no particular reason, or they result from specific triggers, such as dehydration, poor food choices, or sensitivity to light. A typical headache can last for a few hours; however, a migraine headache can last several days.
Primary vs secondary headaches
Headaches are classified as either primary or secondary. A primary headache means that the headache itself is the main medical issue, although there can be other contributing factors. A secondary headache is the result of an underlying medical condition, such as a sinus infection.
New treatments for headache pain
Many people believe over-the-counter pain medications are their only treatment option. However, new treatments are now available. The following is a list of new treatments for chronic headache pain:
- Occipital nerve stimulator implant
An occipital nerve stimulator consists of a small device that is implanted at the base of the skull. It works by sending electrical impulses to the occipital nerves. The electrical impulses block transmission of pain signals to the brain. The occipital nerves run from the upper spine into the scalp.
Although well known for treating wrinkles, onabotulinumtoxinA is also used to treat chronic headaches, tension headaches, or migraines. A health care professional may recommend it to treat headaches that do not respond to other medications. A tiny needle is used to inject onabotulinumtoxinA into small muscles under the skin of the face, head or neck.
- Nerve blocks
A nerve block is a minimally invasive procedure that injects pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory medication around nerves. This blocks specific nerves from sending pain impulses to the central nervous system (CNS). Nerve blocks typically manage pain that originates from the spine.
IMATCH is an intensive outpatient program that typically lasts three weeks, Monday through Friday. The ideal candidate deals with severe headaches several days each week. The program is designed to improve the individual’s ability to concentrate and function, rather than completely eliminate pain.
- Peripheral nerve stimulation
Peripheral nerve stimulation may be an effective treatment option for chronic migraines. It involves placing an electrode device beside a peripheral nerve. The impulses block specific nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Individuals can turn the device on or off.