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Question
Posted by: Erika | 2009/03/23

Rather severe headaches

I have these ongoing severe headaches from time to time about every week sometimes more than once a week lasting for upto 2 days starting on the one side of my temple moving to the other side the next day so bad I cannot concentrate at work and no pain killers work. I sometime experience that when I bend down it feels like my head is bursting and it feels that the actual bones in my head is sore (thought at one stage I had meningitis) this pain lasted for about 4 days. I had x-rays done it shows a problem in my neck I was then referred to Neurosurgeon for MRI scan, but my medical aid does not cover MRI. Just wanted to know what is the next step to sorting out this problem they perscribed medication, but I cannot live on tables for the rest of my life.

Thank you for assisting me.
Regards
Erika

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Erika,

With regard to an MRI, it is not necessary unless a neurological examination reveals some possible problem that needs to be confirmed.

You are quite correct not to want to use medication - one of the main problems with taking medication for headaches is that it often leads to Medication Overuse Headache (MOH). MOH is a problem that occurs in headache sufferers who have to take painkillers on a regular basis - the headaches become more frequent and more severe! Because of this, the patient increases the dosage and takes the drugs more often, and a vicious circle is set up, making the headaches worse and worse.

The answer therefore is not to rely on medication or painkillers! The correct way to deal with the problem is to have a proper diagnosis of the causes of the headache. If the causes are treated, the headaches no longer occur, and it is no longer necessary to rely on potentially harmful “rescue” medication. Anyone suffering from a headache such as yours must have a proper medical assessment, which should include a neurological examination. The reason for this is to make absolutely certain that there is not some serious or life threatening underlying medical condition causing the headaches. Although this is uncommon, it is essential to exclude this possibility before doing anything else.

Once this has been done, then the next part of the investigation is started. The correct way to deal with the problem is to have a proper diagnosis of the underlying causes of the headache. If these are treated, the headaches no longer occur, and it is no longer necessary to rely on potentially harmful “rescue” medication. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary” assessment. There are many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, and no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For this reason, the combined the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, are co-ordinated into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables a more comprehensive treatment plan, in which all the contributing factors are addressed. This assessment must include examination to determine the presence of tension in the head and neck muscles.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on http://www.headacheclinic.co.za/

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic on 0861 678 911 (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban).

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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