We have all likely had a headache at some point in our lives. But some people can suffer from chronic headaches or are much more prone to getting them. This 2015 study highlights the epidemiology of headaches, affecting roughly 1 out of every 7 Americans annually. Migraine and headache are leading causes of outpatient and ED visits and remain an important public health problem, particularly among women during their reproductive years.

What Causes Headaches?

Most people have headaches occasionally that are related to tension and stress caused by short deadlines, fussy children, or demanding bosses. When you begin to experience headaches more than twice a week or develop head pain that’s different than your usual, however, the cause may be related to nerve issues such as:

  • Occipital neuralgia, which can cause shooting pain running up the two greater occipital nerves that travel from your upper neck through the muscles at the back of your head, one on each side, and forward along your scalp
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, which is a chronic pain disorder that affects the trigeminal nerve in the face and can cause aching, throbbing, stabbing pain in areas of the face, including the forehead
  • Benign intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri), a condition that occurs when intracranial pressure inside your head increases for no apparent reason.

Interestingly, using headache pain relievers too frequently or at too high a dose can also trigger severe “rebound” headaches.

How is a Migraine Different Than Other Headaches?

The location and characteristics of migraine pain are different than other types of headaches. A tension headache, for instance, typically causes aching pain with pressure across your forehead or sides and back of your head. Individuals often report feeling as if a band is tightening around their heads.

Migraine headaches cause severe pulsing or throbbing pain that often occurs on just one side of your head. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound when you have a migraine. Some individuals develop symptoms that occur right before or during the headache, which are known as migraine aura and may include wavy flashes of light in your vision or numbness and tingling in your face.

What is the Treatment for Frequent Headaches?

As always at the Arizona Institute of Neurology and Polysomnography, treatment for your headaches begins with a thorough evaluation that helps identify the underlying cause of your pain. This may include nerve conduction studies, radiographic imaging such as MRI or CT scan, and other diagnostic tests.

Want to Learn More About Headache Therapy?

Dr. Khan can create individualized treatment strategies that are tailored to your specific needs and help ensure the best possible results. Schedule your appointment today for relief from your headaches.


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