More Than A Headache

A stressful day, a lack of sleep, side effects of medication, or even hormonal changes. There seems to be an unlimited number of reasons for chronic headaches. About 1 in 2 persons will get some form of chronic headache. Can the cause, however, stem from an issue with the spine? People with slipped discs often cite headaches as a common symptom. Above all, there are treatment options that can help relieve the pain.

Mackinaw Surgery Center What Is Causing My Chronic Headaches Treatment Options For A Slipped Disc

Is it a slipped disc?

Slipped discs are a common spinal issue. The neck has 7 bones called vertebrae, which support the head and neck. Between these bones are discs that act as shock absorbers. Due to injury, arthritis, or wear and tear, a disc can move out of place. The herniated disc can press on surrounding nerves. These nerves could be the cause of chronic headaches.

Understanding chronic spinal headaches

Headaches from slipped discs, osteoarthritis, or injury are called cervicogenic headaches. Most doctors warn that this pain from slipped discs can be hard to determine. These headaches may have similar symptoms as migraines. Expect to feel pain on one side, light sensitivity and nausea. These headaches could also cause neck pain or pain with a sudden movement of the neck. If these symptoms show no signs of slowing down, seek medical help immediately.

Time to take action

Once the patient reveals the symptoms, the doctor will then confirm if the headaches are spinal related. These include physical tests, CT scans, or an MRI. Once verified, the doctor will prescribe medication to reduce pain and inflammation. Hot and cold therapy, for instance, is another effective treatment. The doctor will also suggest further steps to manage posture when sitting, standing, and working. If the pain persists, there are additional treatments that can help.

Alternative treatment options may help

Chronic headaches may benefit from physical therapy. Treatment options like steroid injections can also relieve pain for several months. Research shows alternative treatment like acupuncture is an effective form of treatment. Other treatment options include radiofrequency ablation, yoga, and chiropractic care.

Turning to ACDF surgery

If the pain persists and is related to a severely slipped disc, the doctor will then turn to surgery. ACDF or anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is the procedure typically performed. The operation is minimally invasive and starts with a small incision at the front of the neck. The surgeon then will remove part or all of the damaged disc. The surgeon then installs an artificial disc and screws to hold the bones in place. Over time the two affected vertebra fuse together. This relieves the nerve pressure, bringing long-term relief. ACDF patients report an 85% success rate, even several years after surgery.

Treatment is the key

All chronic headaches must be taken seriously. Seek medical advice immediately. Chances are, the headache may be spinal related. If a doctor confirms a slipped disc, then there are several treatment options available. Most treatment, including medication and physical therapy, will bring positive results. In severe cases, ACDF surgery can restore a clear, pain-free mind. For more information, speak with a spine specialist.