Hi, i've been suffering with a headache now for about 6-7 weeks, i've been to the doctors and she gave me some tablets which haven't helped at all. The headache is at the top and side of my head and sometimes the top of my neck. More recently my vision has started to get a little blurred and the side of my head is hurting more. Then, some parts of my face are going numb and i don't feel myself, having trouble remember things. What could this be and is there anything else i can do to get rid of it? Not on any other medication and i try to get some exercise everyday. Please can you help?
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.
Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of your symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.
There are several causes of headaches. Headaches can be divided into primary and secondary. Primary headache disorders are headaches without a direct cause. Secondary headache disorders are due to an underlying problem, such as a tumor, medication side effects, central nervous system infections, clots in the veins in the brain etc.
There are several primary headache disorders, over 50 different types. For example migraines, which usually a pulsating throbbing one-sided pain with nausea and discomfort in bright lights that lasts several hours. Migraine is often associated with vision symptoms and sensory symptoms such as numbness.
Without further information about your headache, it is difficult to provide you with adequate information. However, it is important for you to understand that if you have not experienced headaches in the past and you are now having new head pains, seeing a neurologist is a good idea, just to make sure there is nothing serious causing this pain. An MRI of the brain is indicated to ensure no underlying brain pathology is present.
Causes of neck pain associated with headache are cervicogenic headache and occipital neuralgia.
Cervicogenic headache is a headache that is "referred" to the head from bony structures, muscles, and other soft tissue in the neck and shoulders. Symptoms are usually one-sided and include: precipitation of head pain by neck movement or awkward neck positions, head pain when external pressure is applied to the neck or occipital region, restricted range of motion of the neck, and neck, shoulder and arm pain. Treatment for cervicogenic headache includes physical therapy, medications, behavioral therapy, and other modalities.
Occipital neuralgia is caused by irritation or injury to two nerves that run from the upper neck to the back of the head. The irritation could be due to neck trauma, pinching of the nerves (by muscles or arthritis), and other causes. Symptoms include a piercing sharp pain that travels from the upper neck to the back of the head and behind the ears. It is usually a one sided pain but can be on both sides of the head. Treatment includes physical therapy, medications, and in some cases injections, "nerve blocks", during which a physician injects the irritated nerves with an anesthetic.
A concerning cause of neck pain associated with headache is a dissection: a small tear in the blood vessels that travel up the neck to the brain. This can occur spontaneously in people with certain conditions that affect the blood vessels, after neck trauma, or after chiropractic manipulation of the neck. The pain is often but not always associated with some sort of neurologic deficit as a dissection can often lead to a stroke. I suggest that if your neck pain/ headache persists and/or becomes more severe, and/or if you develop neurologic signs like weakness on one side of the body, slurring of speech, double vision or other vision symptoms, difficulty speaking, and so on that you be seen immediately by a doctor.
If you are older than the age of 55, one potential causes is called giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis. This is due to an inflammation in the temporal artery and other arteries in the body. Symptoms include one sided headache pain in the temple and jaw that may be triggered by chewing. This condition can be diagnosed by a blood test called an ESR and a biopsy of the artery. It is very important to rule this diagnosis out as it is highly treatable and if left untreated it can lead to vision loss. It is exceedingly rare in people younger than 55, and is more common in even older age groups.
If you frequently experience headaches or neck pain and are not finding relief, evaluation by a neurologist, and perhaps a headache specialist, might be helpful for you. If a primary headache disorder is diagnosed (meaning there is no underlying brain abnormality), there are several different medications that can be prescribed to treat the pain.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck
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