Thursday, October 30, 2014
Sunday, November 11, 2012 Lauren Hand, Community Member, asks

Q: I have been dealing with chronic daily headaches since I was 12 and I need help!

I have been dealing with chronic daily headaches since I was 12.  I am currently 34 with a full time job and 2 small kids and I am exhausted.  I go through bad spells where I will have a headache 7 days a week for months and then I can go a couple good months where I only get a headache 2-3 times per week.  I occasionally get migraines with these (maybe once/month- it's hard to tell).  I also have a history of neck pain- constant knots in one spot on my right side of my back neck area and always have tension in my neck. 

 

I wake up about 2-3 per year with a severe stiff neck and am in severe pain for about 2-3 weeks.  I am just getting over one of those spells now and one of the doctors that saw me gave me all kinds of muscle relaxers and pain medication (none that really helped).  She was going to finally give me an MRI of my neck (no one has ever suggested after going to specialists for my headaches for 25 years).  However, the insurance denied it.  It might take a while to get it approved.  I was happy at the thought of getting an MRI to finally see what might be going on to see if anything was related to my constant headaches.  I use Fioricet for my headaches now but have to take them so often that they give me rebound headaches.  I went to the neurologist this week and he gave me Zanaflex to take for the next couple months 1-3 (4 mg) per day.  I am always scared to try new medicine -especially something that might give me rebound headaches.  


I am exhausted and wanting to find answers to my pain and not just medicine to help mask it.  I feel like every doctor/specialist I have been to just says that I need to live with it and there is nothing I can do.  I am still young and feel like taking strong medication every day is not good for me (or my liver).  Is there anyone with advice out there?  Is there something else I should be trying or another specialist?  I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

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Answers (1)
Teri Robert, Health Guide
11/11/12 1:07pm

Lauren,

 

-:¦:-•:*'""*:•.-:¦:-•* Welcome to HealthCentral! *•-:¦:-•:*'""*:•.-:¦:-

Wow. I'm sorry you're going through so much. Why on earth would your insurance company deny the MRI? We can't diagnose, but I can share information with you. In your place, I'd be calling the insurance company daily about that MRI because I'd want to know if there are any neck issues. One reason your doctor may want it is to look at the possibility that part of the problem is cervicogenic headaches. You can read more about them in

Yes, medications such as Fioricet - any pain medications, prescription or over-the-counter, can be a problem because of the potention for medication overuse headache (rebound), and as you know, that's the last thing you need adding to the problem. Do you need more information about that and what can cause it. If so, you can find it in

Zanaflex (tizanidine) isn't known to be a problem for causing medication overuse headahe.

I don't know what doctors you've been to at this point, but I'd highly recommend 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 our listing of Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists.

As for daily medications, I fully understand your not wanting to take them. I don't either. However, we do have to remember that Migraine is a neurological disease, and diseases don't always leave us that option if we want to manage the disease and maintain a high quality of life. It's only through dialy preventive medications that I'm able to not spend five or six days a week in bed with Migraines. Hopefully, that won't be the case for you, but I wanted to play devil's advocate here a bit.

Please keep us posted on how you're doing?
Teri

 

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Lauren Hand, Community Member
11/12/12 10:27pm

Thank you for responding. I have been to a Migraine/Headache Specialist in Worcester, MA.  It's been a while so I will look into it again.  The Neurologist who gave me the Zaneflex told me to take one per day and then if I needed it to take up to 3.  Isn't this a drug that needs to get into your system?  How does that happen if I only take one a day- and it only lasts for 8 hours?  I don't want to be taking this for nothing but I'm having a hard time with just the one- it's making me very exhausted and giving me a dry mouth.  Should I be taking it 2-3 times a day or will the once per day still work on preventing headaches? 

I will keep you updated on my situation. Right now it's very frustrating b/c I also have other issues that I'm dealing with - hip and hand problems.  Going to a rheumatologist for that.  Ughh...

Thanks again.

 

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By Lauren Hand, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/12/12, First Published: 11/11/12