Migraine headache can be one of the most debilitating chronic conditions. Frequent headaches often remove the patient from their normal activities of daily living, be it work, caregiving, or basic functional self-care routines. Nearly 11% of adults are affected worldwide. An assortment of symptoms can accompany headache including sensitivity to light, nausea, and/or vomiting. A large percentage of migraine-sufferers are warned of an impending migraine by an "aura," which can be classified as sensory disturbances, be it visual spots or flashes in eyes, tingling or numbness of body, or even speech problems.
Another form of chronic headache includes cluster headaches, or "suicide headaches" which are periodic and can occur 1-3 or up to 8 times per day. The timeframe in which they last, or the "cluster period" can last from 2 weeks to 3 months. Headaches may go into remission or disappear for months or years. Often, these debilitating headaches can awake a person from sleep 1-2 hours after going to bed. We see patterns with cluster headaches, either following the circadian rhythm or time of year. Unfortunately for these patients, the actual pain can be 100 times more intense than a migraine headache.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a condition that causes extreme and sudden facial pain, usually one sided. Attacks are intense and feel like an electrical shock lasting seconds to minutes, often triggered by mechanical touch like brushing your teeth or light touch to the cheek.
As a naturopathic doctor, my focus is not primarily on pain management. We seek to treat the cause of symptoms and conditions. Often I see the cause of migraines to be influenced by stress and/or hormone imbalances. Many women notice a connection to their menstrual cycle. Others find that food sensitivities can be a major trigger. Workup and treatment for migraines, cluster headache, and trigeminal neuralgia are not an overnight approach to cure. Sometimes the patient can be quite resistant to cure even with resolve of causative imbalances. Though challenging to treat, we have so many tools to offer.