Headaches

Properly Treating Migraines and Other Headaches

The causes of headaches are often misdiagnosed by primary care physicians and even neurologists.  In most cases medical testing, especially MRI or CT scans of the head and brain are negative.  Some patients have a primary headache disorder, such as migraines or cluster headaches.  However, the most common cause of headaches is pain referred from the neck area, and occasionally the jaw, even if there is not neck or jaw pain. 

Fibromyalgia/fibromyositis and pinched nerves of the neck are frequent causes of headaches.  Some people can have two different causes or types of headaches such as migraines and those referred from the neck.  Most migraines can be properly medicated.  But if there is a second cause then the headaches will continue until the second cause is properly identified and treated.

A thorough physical examination including the neck can usually diagnose this condition.  Sometimes an MRI scan of the neck and occasionally electrodiagnostic studies are needed to identify the problem.

Anti-inflammatory medication possibly a neck support, and physical therapy to the neck and sometimes the jaw help many headache conditions.  For those unresponsive to these treatment methods, freeze spray and stretch, cold laser or light therapy, iontophoresis and stimulation probe are frequently effective alternatives.