Dr. Shapira's Chicago Headache Blog

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Headaches Are Destroying My Relationships and My Family

From www. IHATEHeadaches.org e-mail
Susan: I have been having severe chronic daily headaches for over 5 years. I have been diagnosed as sinus headaches, migraines, atypical migraines, TMJ, Trigeminal Neuralgia. I have had numerous CAT Scans and MRI that all appear normal. I have tried multiple medications that seem to slightly ease the pain on a temporay basis but I do not remember the last time I was pain free. My marital life is a mess and my husband doesn't understand how I can have so much pain when all the tests are normal. I am constantly yelling at the kids and the feel horribly guilty. My friends have all but cut off contact but it is probably my fault. I wish the scans could find a tumor so everyone would know the pain was real.
I'm desperate but that just seems to make the pain even worse.
Dr Shapira:
Susan, Please do not give up. I have heard many stories similar to yours. First, because all of the tests have been negative for disease there is excellent hope for significant improvement.. I suggest you seek out a Neuromuscular Dentist who also understands chronic Myofascial Pain and the use of Trigger Point Injections, Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks, Spray and stretch techniques.
Susan, it is important to understand that eliminating your pain is not a cure. You have been forever changed by the hell you have been experiencing. The only real cure would be a do-over on the last five years of your life. The goal of treatment is eliminate pain and restore quality to your life and allow you to reconnect with your husband, children, family and friends. The pain you have lived with has changed who you are forever but that may just make you appreciate your life more in the future.
The medical model for Chronic Headaches is diagnostic test and then perscription medicine. I find that patients who have symptoms you describe are easier to treat than expected. I usually spend 1-2 hours on an initial consultation with new patients. Initially we talk so I can understand who you are, how the pain is affecting you, your life and your family. The next part of the consultation is to try to eliminate some or all of the pain you are experiencing at that time.
I usually begin with trigger point deactivation of the cranial and upper body muscles. It is amazing how frequently we can elimnate all or most of the pain just by utilizing techniques described by Dr Janet Travell over 50 years ago. Dt Travell was President John F Kennedy's physician.
The majority of all pain patients experience is muscular in orgin, and turning off the pain allows us to understand the undrlying processes. At this same visit we will make a trial change of proprioception into the central nervous system from the trigeminal nerves.
We can usually eliminate most pain during the first visit the hard work is to make these changes on a long term basis. I tell my patients to set a goal of 50-80% reduction in pain initially. As treatment progresses we continually try to remove 50-80% of remaining pain. This is accomplished by utilizing a diagnostic neuromuscular orthotic to change how the muscles function and to alter trigeminal nerve proprioceptive input to the brain.  Over time there are postural changes and healing.
I often find that I "meet" my patients at the third or fourth appointment.  The patient I meet initially is the person living in pain for months or years but after a few visits I meet the real person who was lost under an avalanche of pain.  There is a great joy in watching people recover and regain their lives.
I practice Neuromuscular Dentistry and Pain Treatment as part of my Chicago area TMJ practice.

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posted by Dr Shapira at 7:20 AM

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