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Question
Posted by: Ra | 2007/05/15

Paralyzing headaches

Dear Dr.

My wife suffers from paralyzing headaches, she claims that half her body i.e tongue, face, arm, hands etc. go numb, together with the terrible headache. This has been going on since she was 9 years old, however the frequency was once every 7months or so, since her last pregnancy, say for the last year or so the frequency has upped to sometimes twice a month. We are currently in the DRC, so the medical facilities are not what you would expect as in SA. Could you kindly advise on treatment or cure.

Many thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Ra,

Your wife’s symptoms are well known as part of certain migraine-type headaches, but anyone suffering from the kind of symptoms your wife has 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.

Unfortunately there is no facility in the DRC that can carry out the necessary examination and treatment, so you will have to wait until you are in South Africa.

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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