Headaches – The Cluster Headaches
Part 3 of a 4 Part Series by Maryland Pain and Wellness
Among the three most common talked about headaches although they affect the fewest number of individuals are the Cluster Headaches. Like the multiple aftershocks after an earthquake, Cluster headaches come in succession. Ask John Hopkins Medicine researchers, “What is a Cluster Headache?” and the response looks like this, “Cluster headaches are rare when compared to other types of headaches. The pain they produce is severe and tends to recur in the same way each time. They occur in groups, or clusters, and each attack lasts about 1 to 3 hours on average. The frequency of occurrence may range from every other day to multiple times a day. Cluster periods are followed by remissions that may last months or years.”
Like the two more prevalent types of headaches, the migraine and the tension type headache, the research continues on their cause. The search for what and why of the phenomenon of Cluster Headaches is hampered by the complexities of neurologic interactions coupled with a cursory understanding of pain manifestations. 21st Century Technologies led by AI, Machine Learning, VR, and AR are about to open doors for researchers and scientists. These new allies in medical researcher along with super computers will undoubtably unravel all the intricate workings of the universe of the human body.
Cluster Headaches by The Numbers
NORD, a 501(c)(3) organization, is a patient advocacy organization dedicated to individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them. This organization is an advocate for the suffers of cluster headaches. In considering cluster headaches to be rare the medical community relies on numbers such as:
- “Cluster headache is a primary headache disorder affecting up to 0.1% of the population.” (From Cluster Headache: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Diagnosis)
- “These are the least common type of headaches, affecting fewer than one in 1,000 people.” (From WebMD).
While statements like those and similar populate all the informational resources concerning cluster headaches there is growing skepticism about their veracity. Ashley S. Hattle, a writer based in Michigan, who suffers from cluster headaches has become a forceful advocate for fellow suffers. She has had articles published in Nature, on the Blog of the National Headache Foundation as well as her own book and blog A Guide to Surviving Cluster Headaches.
She is a vocal challenger of the rarity of cluster headaches based on her own nightmare of looking for and confirming her diagnoses. Ms. Hattle is of the firm belief that the number of cluster headaches suffers is higher. She is convinced that misdiagnosis and no diagnosis is hiding the true numbers.
The severity of cluster headache pain is best described by a sufferer. Ms. Hattle describes cluster headache pain in her article published in Nature as, “The first time I experienced a cluster headache, I thought I was dying. I thought it was an aneurysm or stroke, because surely this amount of pain would kill me. But then, after around 90 minutes, it was gone, leaving my body drained and my mind full of fear.
Cluster headache is one of the most painful conditions people can experience. Those who have felt it rate the pain as considerably worse than that from childbirth, kidney stones and gunshot wounds.”
Professional Evaluation and Treatment
Whether on a long and winding road of misdiagnosed cluster headaches or your diagnoses has been confirmed, a Pain Management Physician can design a program of pain relief.
Pain Management Doctors are specialists who collaborate with doctors across other disciplines to treat the debilitating pain of headaches, injuries, and diseases.