Why should I see an Anesthesiologist for my headaches?

Pain medicine is the medical discipline concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of the entire range of painful disorders. Because of the vast scope of the field, pain medicine is a multidisciplinary subspecialty.

The expertise and skill set of an Anesthesiologist is brought together in an effort to provide the maximum benefit to each patient, primarily for patients that experience both primary and secondary headaches.

Each member of our pain treatment team understands the anatomical and physiological basis of pain perception, the psychological factors that modify the pain experience, and the basic principles of pain medicine.

What is an Anesthesiologist?

Physician anesthesiologists are highly skilled medical doctors (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the field of anesthesiology.

Physician anesthesiologists are the most qualified to make anesthesia-related perioperative medical decisions.

What type of provider will I see at The Headache & Neck Pain Institute?

A Physician Anesthesiologist, Board Certified that specializes in pain disorders.

What are the common symptoms of a headache?

There are many different types of headaches. Although not all headaches are the same, they all share at least one thing in common — they cause pain. But many headaches also cause other unwanted symptoms, including nausea and vomiting.

Tension Headaches

People with tension headaches commonly report these symptoms:

  • Episodic Tension Headaches (occur less than 15 days per month)
    • Pain is mild to moderate, constant band-like pain or pressure
    • Pain affects the front, top or sides of the head.
    • Pain usually begins gradually, and often occurs in the middle of the day
    • Pain may last from 30 minutes to several days
    • Chronic Tension Headaches (occur more than 15 days per month)
  • Pain may vary in intensity throughout the day, but the pain is almost always present
  • Pain comes and goes over a prolonged period of time
  • Associated Symptoms of Tension Headaches include:
  • Headache upon awakening
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Disturbed concentration
  • Mild sensitivity to light or noise
  • General muscle aching

Migraines

The symptoms of migraine headaches can occur in various combinations and include:

  • Moderate to severe pain (often described as pounding, throbbing pain) that can affect the whole head, or can shift from one side of the head to the other
  • Sensitivity to light, noise or odors
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensations of being very warm or cold
  • Paleness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fever (rare)
  • Bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)

Cluster Headaches

  • Intense one-sided pain described as having a burning or piercing quality that is throbbing or constant
  • Pain is located behind one eye or in the eye region, without changing sides.
  • Pain lasts a short time, generally 30 to 90 minutes (but can last for three hours); the headache will disappear, only to recur later that day (most sufferers get one to three headaches and some up to eight per day during a cluster period).
  • Headaches occur very regularly, generally at the same time each day, and they often awaken the person at the same time during the night.

Where is The Headache & Neck Pain Institute located?

1918 Randolph Road
Suite 820
Charlotte, North Carolina

Phone: 704-980-6980
Fax: 704-980-6955

What type of patients and conditions do you typically see at The Headache & Neck Pain Institute?

We see a wide range of patients, men and women, both elderly and young adults. Many of our patients seek our medical expertise when they are unable to get relief from over-the-counter medication or medication(s) they have been prescribed.

We treat patients with both primary headaches and secondary headaches.

What is a headache?

Headache is pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location or radiate across the head from one point to another. A headache may be a sharp pain, throbbing sensation or dull ache. Headaches may appear gradually or suddenly, and they may last less than an hour or for several days.

How are chronic headaches diagnosed?

The correct diagnosis is needed to begin an effective treatment plan. Early visits to your doctor are made to establish what type or classification of headache you have.

Headache history

The most important part of the headache evaluation is the headache history. It is important to describe your headache symptoms and characteristics as completely as possible.

Additional diagnostic tests might be needed to rule out other medical and/or neurological conditions.

After evaluating the results of the headache history, physical examination, neurological and psychological examination, your doctor should be able to determine what type of headache you have, whether or not a serious problem is present, and if additional tests are needed.

Could there be a serious underlying cause of my headaches?

Although most headaches are not serious, only uncomfortable, it’s important to recognize when headache pain could be a sign of a larger issue.

When the circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain is interrupted (for various reasons), a stroke occurs. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one sign of stroke is a sudden severe headache with no obvious cause. Other symptoms include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing from one or both eyes.
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or difficulty walking.

What are the different types of headaches?

Your headache symptoms can help your doctor determine the cause and the appropriate treatment plan. Most headaches aren’t the result of a serious illness, but some may result from a life-threatening condition requiring emergency care.
Headaches are generally classified by cause:

Primary headaches:

  • A primary headache is caused by problems with or over activity of pain-sensitive structures in your head. A primary headache isn’t a symptom of an underlying disease.
  • Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels of your head outside your skull, or muscles of your head and neck — or some combination of these factors — may play a role in primary headaches. Some people may carry genes that make them more likely to develop such headaches.
  • The most common primary headaches are:

Cluster headache:

  • Migraine (with and without aura)
  • Tension headache (medically known as tension-type headache)
  • Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia (TAC), including cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicrania

Secondary headaches:
A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number of conditions — varying greatly in severity — may cause secondary headaches. For example, migraines caused by neck pain.

Sources of secondary headaches include:

  • Concussion
  • Dental problems
  • Ear infection (middle ear)
  • Medications to treat other disorders
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord)

Will Insurance or Medicare cover my treatment?

Typically, many of our treatments are covered by insurance.  We encourage you to contact your insurance company directly, based upon your proposed treatment plan.

What happens during my initial consultation?

During your initial consultation you will have a 30-45 minute consultation with one of our providers. During this time, we will obtain a detailed medical history. From there, we will determine if additional diagnostic testing is needed, and map our your treatment plan.

We encourage you to fill out your history prior to your appointment. If another provider has seen you for your headaches, then please send over your medical records in advance.

You will not receive treatment at the time of your consultation.

What treatments are available for headaches and for neck pain?

Our approach to treating headaches and neck pain may include prescription medication to eliminate or reduce the frequency and/or severity of headaches.
With an accurate diagnosis and identification of all triggers, treatment, in conjunction with or without medication can be highly effective in reducing the frequency and severity of headaches and pain, and helping people return to their normal activities.

Some of the treatment options that we offer for headaches include:

  • A variety of neuroblock techniques
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Peripheral nerve injections

Most of our treatment options last up to six months and longer.