New clinic helps to relieve headaches

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***When it comes to a headache – sometimes aspirin just doesn’t cut it.
Now KMC people can go to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s new headache clinic to help alleviate the headache pain.
Of all the patients LRMC’s Neurological Department sees, nearly 80 percent are due to headaches, said Army Maj. Sidney Hinds II, neurological chief of LRMC.
To combat the problem, the neurological department began a headache clinic for longtime sufferers. Patients are seen in the morning, diagnosed and if needed, prescribed medication. The program shifts to an educational platform at
1 p.m., where patients learn how a headache is triggered, as well as new treatment options. The two-part program began March 10 and will continue on a monthly basis and expand as needed.
The new program is needed because there are many headache sufferers and a lot of misinformation regarding treatment, said Major Hinds.
“In 1654, the vascular theory of the migraine was introduced and we haven’t come much further since,” said Army Capt. Shawna Scully, LRMC staff neurologist. “The headache is to neurology what the common cold is to the rest of medicine.”
Headaches can be triggered by a toothache, stress, sinus problems, smoking and actual migraines. Lots of things can cause a headache, even eating the wrong kind of food.
“Some people can eat certain foods that cause the blood vessels to dialate or spasm, which can turn into a headache,” said Major Hinds.
Many people are familiar with stress headaches. You go crazy at work, do a little bit of yelling and screaming, tense up and BAM! – a headache is born. Then there is the classic sinus headache. Sinus pressure, runny nose and a lot of sniffing create even more pressure. It’s a perfect environment for a headache.
What many people are unaware of is that smoking is guilty of causing headaches. Although smoking has a reputation of being a relaxant, the nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, which can cause the head to throb, said Major Hinds.
“It’s a fact that eight seconds after the filter touches your lips, your blood vessels go into spasm and continue to spasm 30 minutes after the cigarette is out,” he said. “For many people, their blood vessels are in a constant state of spasm.”
The thing about treating a headache is that there is no one set treatment for everyone. It’s not cut and dry like putting a splint on a broken finger. What may work for one person may be a complete waste of time for another. Captain Scully finds relief for her headaches by swallowing a pill and lacing up her sneakers.
“I take an anti-inflammatory and go for a run,” she said. “Running stabilizes the blood vessels, stops the spasms and allows them to relax. Doctors told me not to run when I had a headache. This just reminds me that I must tailor the treatment to each patient.”
Depending on the success of the program, other neurological illnesses like epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury may follow suit.
Patients who are interested in participating in the headache program first must be diagnosed by their primary care physician. Walk-ins may not participate.
For more information, call the Neurological Department at 486-8235.