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Headaches and Migraines

Headache is a serious illness that can cause you to miss out on family activities or take time away from work. Many people assume nothing can be done to decrease the severity or frequency of headaches, but most can be treated by your primary care provider. If your headaches don't improve, Gundersen's headache experts diagnose and treat all types of headache in adults and children.

Migraine headaches

Migraine headaches can be debilitating and are three times more likely to occur in women than in men. Often, migraines are associated with nausea and sensitivity to light, noise or smells.

Gundersen's headache experts diagnose migraines—which can be easily mistaken for other types of headache—and identify the triggers that may be causing them. If you are concerned about the amount of migraines you suffer, you are urged to keep a log of when you experience the headaches and share that information with your primary care provider.

We also work with you to prevent future migraines by identifying lifestyle changes and medications that can help you live migraine-free. Migraine-specific prescription medications can often stop severe headaches and help you return to normal function within two hours.

Non-migraine headaches

Some patients who suffer from non-migraine headaches can treat their headaches with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen, though those who suffer from frequent or severe headaches may benefit from some of the same treatments used for migraines.

Tension headaches – Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, with aching or a sense of pressure affecting your temples, the front of your head or your head overall. These headaches are commonly brought on by stress, muscle tension, fatigue or hunger and usually last a few hours—though some may continue for days.

Cluster headaches – Cluster headaches are more likely to occur among men. They are characterized by sudden, severe, short-lived pain attacks on one side of your head which may repeat over several days or weeks. Those headache series may return every year or two.

Headache Treatments

The type of treatment you choose depends on the frequency and severity of your headaches. You may start with lifestyle changes or medications. When those options do not suffice, Gundersen's headache experts also offer:

Sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks  

A sphenopalatine ganglion (SFEN-oh-PAL-a-teen GANG-lee-on) block can provide immediate and sustained relief from chronic headache and migraine pain.  

How do SPG blocks work?

The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a collection of nerve cells located just under the tissue lining the back of the nose (mucosa). By numbing the area, nerve impulses can be temporarily blocked providing pain relief. SPG blocks may be used in addition to medication or as a replacement for it.   

Are SPG blocks a new treatment option?  

SPG blocks were first described in the 1900s, in which cotton balls covered in numbing medication were placed into the back of the nose. Today, new FDA-approved catheter devices can quickly and comfortably deliver the numbing medication to the area of the SPG.  

What are the benefits of SPG blocks?  

  • Low risk
  • Short, simple outpatient procedure—can return to work or home immediately 
  • No needles or general anesthesia 

What are the side effects of SPG blocks?  

Side effects are minimal but may include: 

  • Facial flushing
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Slight nasal irritation or mild pain

Will insurance cover SPG blocks?  

Although few healthcare insurance companies cover this procedure, Gundersen offers it for $205 out of pocket.  

How can I get started?  

Talk to your primary care provider for a referral to Neurology’s Headache Clinic.   

what to expect

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