Ask an expert
Question

16 Jul 2005

headaches after injury
Hi, i urgently need some assistance. In March this year i had a nasty fall at the office whereby i injured my left side of my body including my left arm and leg and neck. i did not bump my head. just injured the arm neck and leg quite badly. 2 weeks after the fall i started experiencing pain in my left eye and left temple. it became real bad that i started experiecing loss of vision in the left eye. it was then that i visited the opthomologist who noticed some infamation behind the left eye. i was referred to a neurologist who sent me for an MRI. the results indicated some CSF build up around the left optic nerve, but according to the neuro-radiologist, the build-up was insignificant. thereafter the battle began where my entire left side became affected, the headaches in the left side of my head increased and i live with severe nausea. i went for further scans of the neck and spine and blood tests as well as a lumbar puncture, but all seems normal. the doctors are baffled and have put me on anti-depressants and a course of cortizone. but to no relief. i also experience shooting pains in the left eye, left side of my face including the upper and lower jaw. the left side of my body also lacks sensation compared to the right side. the doctors claim that in time it will pass. the head pains in the left side of my face are excruciating and i have been advised not to take any more painkillers and i became quite reliant on them. the doctors were very reluctant to question me on the fall i had, and even mentioned that what i was going through is as a result of stress. this angered me. i do not know what to do at this point, as i cannot partake in my normal activities and have been booked off work for the past month and a half. im scared that il be returning to work with no relief. the pain remains on the left side and has become unbearable, more particularly the left side of my head and jaw, and eye. at night the pain intensifies when i put my head down. please advise me on what i can do. im a 26 year old female.
Answer 382 views
Expert
Headache expert
Headache expert

01 Jan 0001

Dear Redrose,

The comprehensive investigations you have had have fortunately ruled out any brain or eye lesion. Research has shown, though, that headaches such as yours can be precipitated by relatively minor injuries to the head and neck area. In these cases, MRIs, neck scans, blood tests, and lumber puncture will not show any abnormality, as in your case. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a very good reason for the pain – all it means is that the cause has not yet been found.

Severe headaches are often accompanied by nausea. Weakness of one side of the body, and loss of vision are common phenomena in migraine, but they are usually of a temporary nature. If these symptoms are related to the headaches, as they appear to be, then they should improve once the headaches have been successfully treated.

The advice you received about relying on painkillers is accurate. One of the main problems with taking painkillers for headaches is that it often leads to Medication Overuse Headache (MOH). MOH is a problem that occurs in headache sufferers who have to take painkillers on a regular basis - the headaches become more frequent and more severe! Because of this, the patient increases the dosage and takes the drugs more often, and a vicious circle is set up, making the headaches worse and worse. This can happen with any of the painkillers, but is far more likely to occur when the medication contains more than one drug, and especially if it contains caffeine or codeine. When the three are combined in one pill, there is an even greater likelihood of MOH developing.

The answer is not to rely on medication or painkillers! The correct way to deal with the problem is to have a proper diagnosis of the causes of the headache. If the causes are treated, the headaches no longer occur, and it is no longer necessary to rely on potentially harmful “rescue” medication. To get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary” approach. There are so many different structures in the head and neck are, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For this reason, the combined the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, are co-ordinated into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables a more comprehensive treatment plan, in which all the contributing factors are addressed.

I am certain that you can be helped.

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic on 0861 678 911.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.