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How to live with a headache: don't!

For most of us, headache is the most common physical complaint. Most headaches are mild and brief, going away spontaneously or with a little help from aspirin or acetaminophen. Others are more severe and long-lasting--and may be a symptom of serious underlying disease.

Whatever their cause, whether known or unknown, headaches can be the bane of one's existence, coming back repeatedly or causing constant pain. Whatever the basis and nature of the headache, however, proper management usually can relieve the pain.

The Headache Program of the Pain Management Center of St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services in Indianapolis is an example of the multidisciplinary team approach to this common malady. Finding the best way to relieve headaches is the goal of a team that includes neurologists, psychologists, biofeedback therapists, physical therapists, and experts in stress management and nutrition.

Physicians may refer their patients to the program, or patients may come in on their own. Initially, an attempt is made to determine the cause or causes of the pain. A broad-based treatment program to reduce the number and severity of headaches is then begun.

Treatment may involve medication, exercise, nutrition, biofeedback, or other stress management techniques. It is given on an outpatient basis and normally lasts about two and a half months. When headaches are successfully reduced, the patient is again referred to the personal physician for any ongoing treatment that may be required.

"Our goal is to keep a person as active as possible with as little medication as possible," says Pain Center director Dr. Robert Blake. "It's not normal to have to live with headaches. Our role is to help physicians and their patients learn more about treatment combinations so they can manage the pain effectively."

If you do not know of a pain center in your area, call the St. Vincent's Pain Center at 1-317-338-2536 to find one accessible to you.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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