I started having headaches about three years ago. To me they seemed to be cluster headaches. They came about one o'clock in the afternoon everyday from December to February. This year, however, my headaches started in mid September and ended mid October. After what I assume was my cluster period this year I began having pain in my left temple that lasts all day long. Sometimes its an intense throbbing and the rest of the time its just a constant annoying ache but it hasn't gone away. I've had an MRI and CT scans and an x ray done in the past all of which were normal. My doctor has not helped me with any of this. He just continues to give me pain killers. I have done research and haven't found anything so I am hoping somebody on here can give me an answer or tell me what to do next. Ashley.
You're quite right to question this new headache. As you probably know, cluster headaches don't last that long, so it's most likely not related to your clusters.
It's good that you've had the imaging studies. They rule out organic issues such as tumor, stroke, aneurysm, etc. That's what they're used for. Headache disorders generally don't show on imaging. The two most common headache disorders are tension-type headache (See Tension-Type Headaches - The Basics.) and Migraine without aura (See Migraine Without Aura - the Basics.). Without more information about other symptoms, etc., it's difficult to know which is more likely.
You said your doctor just continues to give you pain killers. How many days a week are you taking them? The could be contributing to the problem. Taking Migraine abortive meds such as the triptans or ergotamines or any kind of pain med (even simple over-the-counter products such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.) more than two or three days a week can make matters worse by causing medication overuse headache (MOH), aka rebound. See Medication Overuse Headache - When the Remedy Backfires for more information on this.
We're happy to have this discussion with you and offer you information that you can also discuss with your doctor. Beyond that, the help you need must come from a doctor who can review your personal and family medical history with you, discuss your symptoms with you, and examine you in person. Since your doctor doesn't seem to be able to help you, it may well be time to consult a Migraine and headache specialist. It’s important to note that neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. Take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, check the Find a Health Care Specialist on the ACHE web site.
Thanks for your question,
John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert
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Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.
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Published On: March 17, 2014