Cluster Headaches: A Deep Dive into this Condition & the Latest Cutting-Edge Treatments
If you have been suffering from regular headaches that come and go throughout the day or appear every couple of days or so, then you could be suffering from what Pain Doctors and other medics describe as cluster headaches. – A common condition that tends to be long-term, recurrent, and an interference to one’s lifestyle and work. And while all of us have periodic headaches, it is crucial to be mindful of the fact that cluster headaches are not ordinary headaches. Therefore, if you experience intense headaches that appear in a pattern, it is vital to book a consultation with a Pain Consultant who will devise a Personalised Treatment Program, that will reduce both the intensity, and the frequency with which these headaches occur.
Cluster Headaches Symptoms and Causes
When patients consult us and are given an accurate diagnosis, their Pain Specialist will explain to them that cluster headaches, which are thought to be genetic in 5% of people, cause more symptoms than just pain. These symptoms occur on the same side of their head as their headache, and include:
- Head pain
- Sweating or flushing
- A stuffy or runny nostril
- A droopy eyelid
- Redness in the eye
- A watery eye
Of note, in the case of cluster headaches, the area where you feel the head pain, can vary. It occurs on just one side, and in one of the following regions:
- Orbital: near the temple or behind the eye
- Supraorbital: near the forehead and above the eye
- Temporal: at the side of the head behind the ear
Generally speaking, if you experience an attack cycle, you will feel pain on the same side of your head, every time. There are however, rare instances, in which the pain could change location during another attack. Of note, the most recorded location is around one eye to the side of the head at the hairline before the temple.
A large percentage of patients tell their Pain Doctor that their cluster headaches wake them up an hour or more after going to sleep. Moreover, such nighttime headaches can feel more intense than the ones they experience during the daytime. Furthermore, in most cases, after the symptoms set in, it just takes 5 to 10 minutes for the headaches to reach their peak. As a rule, a cluster headache tends to last for half an hour. Sufferers could experience up to as many as eight of these headaches within a 24 hour period. In addition, many people experience daily cluster headache attacks that go on for three months.
Feelings You Can Expect if You Have a Cluster Headache
- Stabbing pain
- Sharp pain
- A burning sensation
A number of patients who suffer from cluster headaches, tell their Pain Doctor that they feel restless at the time of an attack. In fact, they feel that they need to pace around, and cannot bear to just sit still.
Cluster Headache Warning Signs
Just prior to having a cluster headache, some sufferers can feel a burning sensation, or slight discomfort on one side of their head. After this, in the majority of cases, the clusters normally pause and go into remission. However, it is extremely important to note that approximately 20% of patients will suffer from long-term cluster headaches. And this is where consulting a renowned Pain Specialist such as Dr Mona Mubarak, is indispensable.
State-of-the-Art Treatments For Cluster Headaches
Here are details of three long-lasting, leading-edge, Injectable Treatments For Ameliorating Cluster Headaches:
Occipital Nerve Blocks
As the National Migraine Center states, research indicates that: occipital nerve blocks serve as “an effective treatment for many people with cluster headaches and migraine. Moreover, nerve blocks are notable in being one of the more effective treatments for those with cluster headaches.”
A nerve block is a procedure which involves a rapid injection of steroids and local anaesthetic around the greater occipital nerve (on the top of the neck, and at the back of the head), for the purpose of relieving headaches, and lowering inflammation. The London Pain Clinic’s migraine expert, Dr Mona Mubarak, along with our other leading Pain Specialists, inject occipital nerve blocks as part of a Personalised Treatment Plan for substantial pain relief. A large percentage of patients who are suffering from cluster headaches, should derive great benefit from this rapid procedure.
Supraorbital and Infraorbital Nerve Blocks
Similar to an occipital nerve block, this form of cluster headache treatment involves the Pain Doctor rapidly injecting local anaesthetic around the supraorbital and infraorbital nerves. Both of the latter form branches of the trigeminal nerve, which is positioned around the eyes and in the forehead, thus providing relief for headache pain in the forehead and eye areas.
Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks
These type of nerve blocks involve corticosteroids or anaesthetic agents being rapidly injected around the greater occipital nerve. This procedure is designed to block headache pain signals from the greater occipital nerve.