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Cluster Headaches

image of woman massaging her temples

While no headache is pleasant, cluster headaches can be particularly uncomfortable. Sufferers liken the sensation to a hot poker being stuck in their eyes, and may even feel like their eyes are being shoved out of their sockets.

Cluster headaches get their name because they occur in a cyclical pattern. The cluster of headaches may last for weeks or months, with remission periods in between. They are also called “suicide headaches,” because they can drive sufferers to despair.

Symptoms

Cluster headaches attack quickly, often painfully awakening people in the middle of the night. Usually the pain focuses around one eye, but can radiate to the face, neck, head or shoulders. Symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial swelling, excessive tearing and a runny nose, usually on one side of the face. The pain and discomfort makes sufferers irritable. Often they pace back and forth. Lying down tends to increase the pain.

The duration of a cluster period varies. During a period of cluster headaches, the sufferer usually gets at least one headache per day, lasting between 15 minutes and three hours. Some sufferers have predictable cluster headaches, which present at the same time every day, or even during a certain season. Often they strike an hour or two after going to bed.

Risk Factors

Men are likelier victims than women, and usually develop this headache disorder between the age of 20 and 50. Smoking and drinking seem to exacerbate the problem. Genetics may also play a role. Researchers do not know the cause of cluster headaches, but suspect it could be linked to an abnormality in the hypothalamus. This part of the brain controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and many other bodily functions.

Treatment

Several medications help people with cluster headaches. A doctor can inject the sufferer with drugs called triptans, which ease both cluster headaches and migraines, or with a synthetic hormone called octreotide. Local anesthetics can numb parts of the face. Inhaling pure oxygen often dramatically decreases the grip of cluster headaches within 15 minutes.

The doctor may prescribe a preventive treatment, such as regularly taking calcium channel blockers, lithium carbonate or corticosteroids, which suppress inflammation. However, these medications all have side effects. Taking 10 milligrams of melatonin nightly is a relatively safe intervention that helps some sufferers.

In rare cases, surgeons try to damage nerve pathways around the eyes. Newer treatments involve implanting electrodes in sufferers’ heads to block pain signals.

Because cluster headaches are so intense, the afflicted may feel desperate. Talking to a therapist or joining a support group may provide coping mechanisms.

Chiropractic Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Chiropractors restore necks to their proper alignment. A misaligned cervical vertebra can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain signals during a cluster headache. Sufferers might find help from an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.

You chiropractor might prescribe exercises or make suggestions to improve your work station’s ergonomics. This assistance might also cut down on misalignments that could aggravate your cluster headaches.

If you suffer from cluster headaches, call our office today. We may be able to help you without the side effects of medications.

New patients receive a free consultation!

One of our primary goals is to educate our community about the benefits of chiropractic.

Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Friday:

7:00 am-11:00 am

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

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Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "We saw Dr Tim and I highly recommend him to any family!! He's awesome with kiddos!! He treated our 3 month old son. The entire staff is above and beyond!!!"
    Lindsay Tebout
  • "I've been going now since 2014 staff is great both doctors are great and my overall health is so much better not living in pain anymore I would highly recommend."
    Laurie PoelstraVoogd
  • "They were able to help after a car accident when medical doctors could do nothing. So happy that I came here!! Office staff is the best. Always smiling and friendly and the doctors are amazing! Great folks to work with"
    Robyn Nesbitt Franz
  • "The best chiropractor! Well worth the hour drive!"
    Mary Whitelock
  • "I have been a patient for almost 2 years now and feel amazing. I originally went in for pain relief like most patients, and got exactly what I needed. Great environment, friendly staff and good prices with flexible hours. It was an easy decision after I was relieved of my back pain to keep going to Dr. Gillis to maintain my health and to live a healthier lifestyle with chiropractic care."
    Sara Harder

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