Dealing with Chronic Daily Headaches
Lou has had a life full of great stories and interesting experiences. From working in night clubs, doing police work, working as a paramedic, to being in the ministry, she has enjoyed life as much as she can. She is even a reverend and a doctor.
However, Lou’s life has always been dragged down because of her constant, debilitating headaches. In 1988, Lou was diagnosed with a severe form of cancer, which she thankfully overcame. Several years later, she was Christmas shopping at a local mall in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, when she suffered a bad fall. The worst of the damage was to her knees and right arm, but she started having bad headaches.
Although the headaches were unrelated to Lou’s cancer, a neurologist did a brain scan and found an arachnoid cyst on the left side of her head, which had not been present before her fall. Rather than perform a procedure to drain the cyst, which would have caused Lou deafness in her ear, the neurologist gave her medication to control the headaches. Unfortunately, however, the headaches persisted.
The headaches became so sharp and so uncontrollable that she couldn’t function normally. She tried different treatments, including meditation, which helped but only a little bit.
“I always had a headache. You woke up with it, you slept with it, you took a shower with it. It was always there, and that can make you a really grumpy person,” Lou explained. “It was hard to find even a reason to smile.”
As the years wore on, the headaches relentlessly continued. She consulted with her local neurologist who gave her medication that was marginally effective. She was constantly tired, frustrated and felt miserable.
After her neurologist retired, Lou struggled to find a new one and cycled through multiple specialists. Finally, one day, she was referred to Saad Kanaan, MD, UC Health headache specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, at his Dayton office.
The Headache and Facial Pain Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute offers hope to patients through thorough, thoughtful diagnosis of headaches and facial pain, and a wide range of treatment options backed by research. UC Health is also the No. 1 preferred provider for neuroscience care in the region and is home to many specialists in a variety of neurological conditions.
With four convenient locations in Clifton, West Chester, Dayton and Florence, Kentucky, the Headache and Facial Pain Center provides care to more than 10,000 patients on an annual basis and treats more than 50% of the headache patients in the region.
While other specialists thought that Lou was simply suffering from migraine headaches, Dr. Kanaan found that it might be something else.
“Lou had seen many providers before for her headaches, and knowing that migraine is the most common type of headache, oftentimes, we find that occipital neuralgia is misdiagnosed as migraine, and people get migraine treatments that just don’t work,” Dr. Kanaan said.