Cluster headaches are a series of very painful headaches that are short in duration and usually show up around the same time of year. They are little understood, but it is known that a nerve in the face is involved.
The pain is so intense that a person can often not even sit still. These headaches can be even more severe than a migraine, but fortunately do not last as long. They are the least common type of a headache with 1 in every 1,000 people being affected, men more often than women. They may go away for months or years and then show up without any warning.
The FDA has recently approved a device called the gammaCore (electroCore) for use in treating cluster headaches. This handheld device acts as a nerve stimulator to help mitigate the pain associated with cluster headaches in adults. The device transmits a mild electric stimulation to the vagus nerve through the skin.
This treatment is now being offered through headache centers across the US. However, it is not recommended for the following people:
- Patients with an active implantable medical device
- Those with carotid atherosclerosis
- Those who have had a cervical vagotomy
- Pediatric patients
- Pregnant women
- Those with hypertension, hypotension, bradycardia, or tachycardia
- Those with any type of metallic device – a stent, bone plate, or bone screw – near the neck
- Not to be used while the patient is using any other electronic device such as a mobile phone
This is quite an extensive list and limits a lot of people who really need help. Is there anything that is available to help all, regardless of one’s age or health limitations?
Headaches Helped by Proper Spinal Alignment
The brainstem is the communication highway between the brain and body. If one of the bones of the upper neck – the C1 or C2 vertebra – misalign, it can place the brainstem under pressure and cause it to malfunction. These bones also facilitate blood flow to the brain and instead can restrict the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid if misaligned.
Upper cervical chiropractors are often able to correct this misalignment with gentle, measured adjustments, restoring communication and fluid flow. This helps many patients experience better overall health. Sometimes cluster headaches go away and don’t return. To learn more, contact a practitioner near you.