Headache, Migraine, and Facial Pain

Chronic headache, migraine, and facial pain can be debilitating. How you experience a headache syndrome depends on your age, gender, stress levels, job demands, pain tolerance, and other medical conditions.

At Premier Health, our headache specialists help you find relief from your pain and get back to doing the things you enjoy. Your care team may include your primary care physician, a neurologist, pain management specialist, neuropsychologists, and psychologist.

Together with specially trained nurses and support staff at our Headache Center, we provide an accurate diagnosis and advanced treatments for all types of headache conditions and facial pain, including trigeminal and other neuralgias.

Types of Headaches and Facial Pain

There are many different kinds of headaches and causes of facial pain, all of which come with a wide range of symptoms.

There are two types of headaches, primary and secondary. Primary headaches are conditions that exist on their own, unrelated to other illnesses. Secondary headaches are caused by another health condition, such as trauma or disease.

Types of headaches include: 

  • Migraines can be episodic or chronic, causing strong or severe throbbing pain. Migraine symptoms may also include changes in vision, sensitivity to light, and nausea.
  • Tension-type headaches, episodic or chronic are brought on by stress and muscle tension. They cause a steady ache.
  • Cluster headaches are severe headaches that occur in groups, often causing eye pain.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe, intense burst of facial pain on one side of the cheek or jaw, often caused by pressure on the trigeminal nerve.
  • Post-traumatic headaches can develop about a week after an injury or concussion.
  • Exercise headaches are triggered during the exertion of exercise.
  • Thunderclap headaches are sudden and severe, and can be a warning sign of an aneurysm or hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Cough headaches are rare and occur with the straining that comes with coughing, laughing, sneezing, and other similar actions.
  • Sexual activity headaches are caused by muscle tension or vascular changes that occur during sexual activity.
  • Cold-stimulus headaches are caused by eating cold foods like ice cream (brain freeze). Changes in the weather can also trigger headaches and migraines in some people.
  • External-pressure headaches occur from wearing a helmet or other headgear.
  • Stabbing headaches are also called ice pick headaches. They bring short, stabbing feelings of intense pain.
  • Nummular headaches create pain in a small coin-shaped area on the head and may be associated with the trigeminal nerve or migraines.
  • Hypnic headaches are rare and only occur during sleep, causing you to wake up.

Diagnostic Tests

If you are experiencing headaches or facial pain symptoms, your doctor will perform a thorough review of your:

  • Symptoms
  • Medical history
  • Physical exam

Your doctor will talk with you about the intensity of your pain and how often the headaches or facial pain occurs.

You may also be asked to keep a headache dairy, to track symptoms and frequency and spot any triggers.

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood tests. A blood sample is taken and studied for signs of infection or abnormal conditions.
  • CT (computed tomography). X-rays and computer technology combine to form a picture of the brain.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Magnets and radio waves create detailed images of the brain.
  • MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) uses magnets and radio waves to make pictures of your blood vessels.
  • Nerve conduction studies check how quickly electrical impulses move through specific nerves to identify nerve damage.
  • X-rays of the neck or Skull. Electromagnetic energy creates images of your skull, cervical spine, and internal tissues.
  • Lumbar puncture. A thin needle inserted into the space around the spinal column removes a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to measure the red and white blood cell count and check for signs of infection or disease.

Treating Headaches, Migraine and Facial Pain

Your treatment plan will depend on your specific type of headache or facial pain. Your care team works with you to create a personalized plan to reduce your pain and manage your condition.

Headache treatments may include:

  • Dietary changes and supplements, such as vitamins
  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and yoga to reduce stress
  • Biofeedback to learn relaxation techniques
  • Acupuncture to control pain
  • Prescription medicines to prevent and reduce headache frequency and facial pain
  • Botox injections to prevent migraines
  • Infusion therapy for migraines (inpatient and outpatient)
  • Peripheral nerve block for certain types of headaches and facial pain
  • Trigger point injections for certain headaches and facial pain
  • Trigger point dry needling to treat tension headaches
  • Chiropractic care (non-aggressive cervical spine manipulation)
  • Neurosurgery to relieve pressure on nerves causing severe facial pain, or nerves involved with migraine headaches

Severe migraines may require an inpatient hospital stay for evaluation and treatment.

Your care team will work with you to find the best way to manage your chronic headaches.

Contact Us

Our specialists are ready to help you get back to the things that matter most in your life. Find a provider near you or consult our list of related practices.

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