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Alternative Cluster Headache Treatments

For years, headache prevention has been the priority for patients who experience cluster headaches. These preventive measures include avoiding headache triggers, taking preventive medication, and undergoing surgery. Unfortunately, these measures don’t guarantee that a patient diagnosed with cluster headaches will remain pain-free for life. This makes options for abortive treatment necessary to experience relief from this extremely debilitating chronic headache condition.

The options for relieving pain caused by cluster headaches are limited and are not easy to come by. The most common abortive treatments available are sumatriptan injections and intranasal lidocaine and ergotamine drugs. The risk of experiencing adverse effects associated with these drugs increase the longer a patient uses it, so patients and doctors alike are looking for better ways to treat cluster headaches. Luckily for those who are looking for alternative treatment methods, researchers have been hard at work in order to find alternative treatment plans for patients suffering from cluster headaches.

Other Cluster Headache Treatment Methods

A lot of these cluster headache treatments are still in the testing and development phase; however, the early results of research and tests done on these methods are proving to be quite promising. Here are some of the alternative methods that are available or have the potential to be available to cluster headache patients:

  • Oxygen Therapy – The idea of using high-flow oxygen has been around for years, but it was not until recently that studies have been done to prove whether or not inhaling high-flow oxygen can help with cluster headache relief. One study shows that 78% of patients who were given high-flow oxygen experienced significant relief within 15 minutes of treatment. Those who received 30 and 60 minutes of high-flow oxygen reported even better results.
  • Occipital Nerve Stimulation – When drugs don’t provide the necessary relief, and surgery is too drastic a move, stimulating the occipital nerve may be the solution cluster headache patients have been waiting for. This procedure involves placing an electrode underneath the skin right at the base of the skull. This electrode is then attached to a device similar to a pacemaker which will be implanted in another part of the body. This device will send signals to the nerve to stimulate it. Patients who have undergone this treatment during the testing phase have displayed moderate to significant improvement in their condition and most of them would recommend this treatment to other patients.

Finding the ultimate cure for cluster headaches is difficult, especially since the exact cause of the condition is still uncertain. The good news is there are treatment methods being developed to help patients get through the pain of cluster headaches.

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