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Question
Posted by: Marc | 2005/12/05

Severe headaches

Please advise of a clinic or medicentre in Cape Town area where a scan can be done. My friend is experiencing severe headaches.They come and go for no apparent reason. It gets so bad that it incapacitates him. He sometimes gets pain behind the eye.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Marc,

Most headache sufferers do not need a brain scan, as most headaches do not come from the brain. Your friend should only go for a scan if a neurological examination indicates that it is necessary.

The first thing your friend should do is 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. Only if the neurological examination turns up something positive, will the doctor recommend a scan.

Once the medical examination 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 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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