All About Headaches: The Best Headache Treatment in NJ
It’s the end of the week. Work was stressful, you’re tired, and your head feels like it’s going to explode. You’ve probably been there—headaches are one of the most common pain conditions in the world, especially considering how fast-paced our lives are today. Approximately 45 million Americans complain about headaches every year, and about 8 million visit the doctor because of it.
However, an occasional headache is not the same as living with chronic headaches, which can significantly affect your quality of life. If you’ve been constantly feeling head pain or discomfort for a prolonged period, it’s best to seek medical advice.
At Premier Pain Clinics, we aim to help our patients recover their wellness in the safest way possible. Looking for headache treatment in NJ? Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at one of our locations.
What Exactly Causes Headaches?
Your headaches are a result of certain signals interacting between your brain, blood vessels, and nerves. When you are experiencing a headache, specific nerves that affect muscles and blood vessels are activated, sending pain signals to your brain. What exactly activates them is unclear—in fact, headaches, in general, aren’t fully understood.
However, to understand a little bit more about what causes them, let’s talk about the two types of headaches:
Primary headaches aren’t associated with an underlying medical condition. Instead, they occur due to abnormal activity of pain-sensitive structures in the brain. The most common primary headaches are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches. These types of headaches can cause very disabling pain, but they aren’t dangerous.
Other, less common primary headaches are chronic daily headaches (such as chronic migraines or chronic tension headaches), exercise headaches, or sex headaches.
While genetics can play a role in primary headaches, certain lifestyle factors can trigger them, including:
- Low-quality sleep.
- Some foods like processed meats, fermented foods, chocolate, and cheese.
- Exposure to blue light from screens.
- Poor posture.
Secondary headaches are a symptom of an underlying medical condition that triggers pain-sensitive areas in the head or neck. These types of headaches can be caused by many different conditions, some more serious than others, such as:
Symptoms: What Do Headaches Feel Like?
The answer to this may seem obvious, but headache symptoms may actually vary depending on the type of headache you have.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They can cause mild to moderate pain and usually come and go. They are consistent and bilateral (on both sides of the head), and they respond to over-the-counter medications. They can also intensify with daily activities, such as going up the stairs or doing certain movements.
Migraines are the second most common type of headache and one of which we see most often at our NJ relief centers.
Migraine pain ranges from moderate to severe and it is often described as “pounding” or “throbbing”. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to light, noise, or smells; nausea or vomiting; and an upset stomach or stomach pain. This type of headache can last from 4 hours to 3 days and is often recurrent.
There is another type of migraine called migraine with aura. It is essentially the same as a migraine, but it involves temporary sensory disturbances such as flashes of light, vision changes (like blind spots), and/or tingling in the hands or face. Migraine aura usually lasts less than one hour and occurs about one hour before the headache starts.
If you are experiencing other symptoms along with migraine aura, such as vision loss, speech difficulty, or muscle weakness on one side of the body, it’s best to see a doctor immediately to rule out more serious conditions.
This is the most severe type of headache. They are called cluster headaches because they tend to happen in groups or “clusters”; for instance, you might get them one to three times per day during a cluster period that can last from two weeks to three months.
During a cluster period, headaches usually occur every day at the same time. They can last from 15 minutes to 3 hours and typically occur 1 to 2 hours after going to bed.
Additionally, cluster headaches can disappear for a remission period and then come back.
The pain caused by cluster headaches is a sudden, piercing pain that tends to happen behind or around one eye. Unlike migraines, this type of headache causes a person to feel restless; also, the eye on the affected side reddens and makes tears, the eyelid droops, and the nostril gets runny or stuffy.
Seek Immediate Medical Help If You Have These Symptoms
Certain headaches require immediate medical care because they can be a sign of a more severe condition. Seek medical help if you are experiencing:
- A severe headache with nausea and vomiting.
- A new, sudden, severe headache.
- A headache that occurs after trauma or accident.
- A headache accompanied by fever, shortness of breath, stiff neck, or a rash.
- A headache with other symptoms that could suggest a neurological issue, such as:
- Loss of balance.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Changes in speech, vision, or behavior.
Types of Headaches
Aside from tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches, other types of headaches are:
New Daily Persistent Headaches
New daily persistent headaches (NDPH) is a primary headache disorder that typically occurs in people that don’t have a history of headaches. They appear suddenly and occur daily over a long period (at least three months).
Symptoms of NDPH can resemble those of a migraine or tension headache. The person may experience:
- Mild to severe pain on one or both sides of the head.
- Constant and persistent pain that feels throbbing or pulsating.
- Sensitivity to light, noise, or smells.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain that worsens after physical activity and is unresponsive to medications.
Sinus headaches occur as a result of a sinus infection—the congestion and inflammation of the sinuses can cause pain in the forehead and cheekbones. The pain can worsen with head movement and typically comes with other symptoms, such as:
- Mucus discharge.
- Bad taste in the mouth.
- Facial swelling.
Also called medication overuse headaches, these usually occur when you take over-the-counter medication more often than recommended—over three times a week. This is because when the effects of the medication wear off, the pain comes back worse, usually in the morning. Other symptoms can accompany rebound headaches, like nausea and restlessness.
Changing hormone levels during your period, pregnancy, or menopause, as well as hormonal changes from birth control pills, can trigger headaches. You can also get menstrual migraines a few days before or after getting your period.
Hemicrania continua is a chronic, persistent headache that usually happens on one side of the head and face. It is described as a dull, throbbing ache that is suddenly interrupted by sharp, stabbing pain.
This type of headache tends to have similar symptoms to other types of headaches—for instance, like migraines, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or noise.
Thunderclap headaches are sudden, severe headaches, which people tend to describe as the worst headache of their lives. It doesn’t intensify gradually but rather feels extremely painful from the moment it starts.
These types of headaches can be a sign of a very serious condition, such as a stroke. Even though this is not always the case, any headache that occurs suddenly and causes severe pain requires immediate medical help.
Occipital Neuralgia: It’s Not the Same as Migraine
Occipital neuralgia is a rare condition in which the occipital nerves, which run through the top of the spinal cord through the scalp, are pressured or irritated due to an injury or inflammation. This causes intense, sharp pain in the back of the head and neck, as well as other symptoms like:
- Pain behind the eye.
- Tender scalp.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Pain on one side of the head.
- Pain when moving the head or neck.
Do some of these symptoms seem familiar? Well, this condition is often mistaken for migraine, since their symptoms can feel similar. However, they are completely different.
Occipital neuralgia usually occurs due to pinched nerves in the root of the neck. Attacks of intense pain last a very short time—a few seconds or minutes—and they can occur spontaneously, or even be triggered by a light touch.
But what exactly causes occipital neuralgia? Sometimes, it’s tight neck muscles or chronic neck tension; it can also be caused by injury to the head or neck. Yet, other conditions can lead to occipital neuralgia, such as:
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Cervical disk disease
- Tumors that affect nerve roots
If you’re looking for a headache center in NJ, we can help! Request a consultation below to get an appointment with one of our specialists.
How Are Headaches Diagnosed?
When you visit your doctor to examine your headache, they’ll probably begin by analyzing your medical history. It can also be very useful to keep track of your headaches to identify their triggers—foods, activities, emotions, etc. Hint: your doctor will probably ask questions related to this.
They will also perform physical and neurological exams to look for signs and symptoms that can help identify the cause of your headache.
If they suspect the cause of your headache is a condition that requires additional diagnostic tests, your doctor may order some imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI.
No More Headaches: Find Headache Treatment in NJ
Your headache treatment will depend on factors such as the type, frequency, and cause of the headache. For instance, if the cause is an underlying condition, the headache will most likely go away when that condition is treated.
However, some headaches are not that simple: their cause may not be clear since they aren’t always linked to a particular disease or condition. Migraines are a great example—to this day, doctors haven’t identified their exact cause. There isn’t a definitive cure for migraines either, but several types of treatment options can help ease symptoms.
You can usually get rid of the occasional tension headache with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. However, as mentioned before, using these types of medications very often can cause even more headaches.
When your headaches are more intense and frequent, your doctor may prescribe other headache medications, like triptans. They may also recommend medications that are normally used for other conditions, like antidepressants or seizure medications, since they are known to be useful in treating headaches.
There are other types of treatments that are often recommended when headache medications don’t work, or to complement them, such as biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and stress management.
At our pain clinics, however, we use pain management techniques like interventional procedures and alternative therapies to treat headaches.
The Comprehensive Pain Management Approach: Find Headache Treatments in NJ
If you’re looking for the best headache treatment in NJ, we’ve got your back. At Premier Pain Clinics, we focus on comprehensive pain management to treat headaches and other conditions. If you’ve never heard of this approach, we’ll tell you why it’s a great option.
Comprehensive pain management uses a multidisciplinary approach to treat pain by integrating the expertise of professionals from several different specialties. It addresses the problem from different perspectives and goes beyond the physical aspects of your pain, focusing on the mental and emotional aspects as well.
This approach allows us to provide each patient with the treatment that best suits their particular case. In other words, your treatment plan will most likely combine different techniques, such as alternative therapies, interventional procedures, physical therapies, etc. Our goal is to create a holistic, personalized treatment plan that will not only give you long-term pain relief but will help restore your quality of life.
One of the pain treatments most recommended by our specialists is nerve blocks. They consist of injecting a local anesthetic into a specific nerve or group of nerves, which “blocks” pain signals and keeps them from getting to the central nervous system. This is a quick, outpatient procedure that provides relief for days or weeks, and is very effective in treating headaches.
At Premier, you’ll get evaluated by the best migraine doctors in NJ, who will recommend the most effective treatment option for you. Not only are they highly skilled and knowledgeable, but they’re compassionate individuals who want to help you live your healthiest life.
We know how frustrating headaches can be. We’ll be happy to tell you more about our pain treatments and how they can help you get rid of them. Give us a call at (973) 531-2199 or leave us your information below and we’ll help you schedule an appointment or solve any questions you may have!
FAQ About Headaches
Can my migraine go away completely?
To this day, there is no definitive cure for migraines, which means even if you get treatment for them, they may come back at some point. However, certain treatments can help prevent, reduce, or even eliminate migraine symptoms.
It may take some trial and error to find what helps you the most. At Premier, we are committed to helping you determine the best treatment or combination of treatments for your particular case.
In addition to my headache treatment, will I need to make lifestyle changes to get better?
Although this isn’t necessarily the case, it can definitely help. Lifestyle changes can be a great complement to pain treatments. Keep in mind that not everything works for everyone, but some of these changes can be:
- Eating healthier and identifying foods that trigger your headaches.
- Mild to moderate exercise.
- Improving sleep hygiene.
- Learning to manage stress.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate for nerve blocks?
Our doctors usually recommend nerve blocks when patients can’t find relief in conventional therapies, like over-the-counter medications.
When you schedule an appointment at Premier, a specialist will carefully evaluate your medical history and symptoms to determine if nerve blocks are a good option for you.
What does the nerve block procedure look like?
Nerve blocks are an outpatient procedure that is performed while you’re awake.
First, with the help of a fluoroscope X-ray, a needle is guided to the target with a local anesthetic. The doctor will then inject pain-relieving medicine into the nerves in that area.
You’ll be able to go home after about 30 minutes. There might be a minor soreness at the site of the nerve block, but it won’t last very long.
The effect of these injections is usually immediate, and it will last for one to two weeks. Depending on your medical history, you may be able to repeat the procedure between three and six times within one year. Your doctor will help you determine the number of injections you’ll need.