Headaches and Migraines
The Mount Sinai Center for Headache and Pain Medicine can provide individually tailored treatment plans plus counseling for patients with a variety of headache and migraine types, including:
A migraine is a one-sided, throbbing headache of moderate or severe intensity. It usually lasts 4-72 hours and is associated with light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. It occurs more frequently in women but it is not uncommon in men. Typically there is someone else in the family with a history of migraine. Migraines are sometimes accompanied by aura, or flashing lights or zigzag lines, loss of vision, and tingling in the face or body.
Chronic migraines are headaches that occur 15 or more days a month for more than three months in a row. Some of the headaches in the month should have typical characteristics of a migraine, however not all of them will feel like a migraine. Risk factors for developing chronic migraine include overuse of rescue medication for migraine and obesity.
Menstrual migraine refers to a migraine headache suffered by women during their menstrual cycles. Generally, menstrual migraines occur right before, during or immediately after a woman's period. It is the shift in estrogen during this time that triggers the migraines.
This type of headache is a mild intensity headache that often feels like a pressure or a tight band around the head. This headache can cause increased sensitivity to light or sound and occasionally cause nausea, however usually these features are not prominent. Generally, tension headaches involve both sides of the head and can last hours to days.
Cluster headache is a rare type of headache characterized by a severe one-sided pain usually behind the eye or around the temple. These headaches are associated with eye tearing, eyelid drooping, nasal congestion or runny nose on the side of the head pain. Each headache lasts typically 30-45 minutes and often the headaches recur at least once during the day, often at similar times. The headaches cluster in period of weeks and then go away. A person can be pain free for months to years.
Exertional headaches are closely related to a physical activity. Typically these headaches have a quick build up to a severe intensity during the triggering event and can vary in duration. Types of activities that can trigger exertional headaches include coughing, sneezing, running, having a bowel movement and sexual intercourse. Headaches triggered by these kinds of activities in rare cases can be associated with a more serious problem and so they should always be discussed with a physician.
Primary Stabbing Headache
Primary stabbing headache, sometimes known as a “jabs and jolts” headache, can often been seen in people who have migraine or cluster headaches. They feel like a sharp jab in a specific location on the head and last only for a few seconds, sometimes repeating a few times in a row. The stabs can stay in one area or sometimes move to another part of the head.
Trigeminal neuralgia is facial pain usually over the cheek or jaw that feels like an electric shock. It can occur hundreds of times a day and often people are very sensitive to touch in that area. Attacks can be triggered by touching the face, chewing, talking or even the wind blowing against the face. It can be misdiagnosed as a tooth related problem that doesn’t respond to dental treatment. The cause of trigeminal neuralgia is sometimes related to a blood vessel that touches and irritates the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensation in the face.