Over 50% of people who see a neurologist are seeking help for headache disorders. UM Capital Region Health Medical Group has established a Headache Clinic to help patients who suffer repeat and chronic headaches. The goal is to get to the root of their disorder and develop a treatment plan that lets them regain control and improve their quality of life. The Clinic focuses on 4 steps: diagnosis; education; mitigation; and prevention.
Diagnosing headache disorder is about more than determining whether the patient has migraine, cluster or tension type headache. It is about understanding when the headaches started, what triggers them and what happens to the patient before the headache strikes.
For example, headaches can often cause changes in mood or personality that may go unnoticed by the patient or their family. That change in mood may be the first indication of a headache coming on hours, even days before the pain starts. By tracking the timing of mood changes, patients can often take preventive measures to stop the headache before it starts.
Other patients are triggered by a smell or a noise. What you think is a tension type headache may really be a response to a specific sound that causes you to scrunch your shoulders which then causes a headache. When we identify the source of your headache, we can create a treatment plan.
It's not enough for the doctor to understand the patient's headache disorder; the patient needs to understand it too. They need to know where and when it will strike and what brings it on and what treatment protocols help to mitigate it quickly. The ultimate goal is for the patient to have a thorough understanding of the triggers and symptomology so they can anticipate the headache minutes, hours, even days before it strikes and take appropriate preventive measures.
It's also important for the patient to recognize mood and personality changes that may be associated with impending headaches. In many cases, the mood change is a symptom of the headache and not a personality flaw for which the patient might feel guilty.
Mitigation and Prevention
Once a headache has struck, the patient wants relief fast. Medication is the usual line of defense for an active migraine or headache. Some headache disorders can also be treated or ameliorated with posture changes, stretches, reduction in light and noise and hydration. Ideally, however, the patient can learn how to prevent the headaches from occurring.
Being able to recognize and anticipate headache triggers gives the patient the ability to take preventive measures and keep the headache at bay. In addition to medications, trigger management can include vitamins and supplements, physical therapy and long acting injectables like BOTOX, nerve blocks and trigger point injections. The key is recognizing the triggers and symptoms before they strike.
Headaches don't have to control you. Our goal is to diagnose your specific headache disorder and work with you to create a fluid treatment plan that gives you relief from headaches that happen and, as importantly, give you the tools to recognize them and prevent them before they start.
The Headache Clinic is offered in Largo and Bowie and includes a dedicated BOTOX injection clinic.