They may not be as common as other chronic headaches, but cluster headaches can sometimes be even more painful and devastating. Effective treatments include a wide range of therapies and drugs as well as surgical options.
Interestingly, a minimally invasive neurostimulation procedure, the technology used in the Omega migraine procedure, has been shown to yield promising outcomes for people struggling with chronic cluster headaches that are particularly resistant to drugs and other treatments. A 2007 research study from the Liege University in Belgium found that occipital nerve stimulation could be a beneficial treatment in cases of drug resistant chronic cluster headaches.
A recent story on Seattle’s news station KING5 described life for one man struggling with cluster headaches. The 51-year-old truck driver describes them to be “almost like somebody is pouring liquid Drano into your brain,” and says that he carries oxygen and caffeinated beverages with him in the event of an attack.
He claims that oxygen helps reduce the duration of the headaches. According to WebMd, treatment for this type of chronic headache can be similar to the type prescribed for migraines. These include preventative and abortive medication to surgical solutions, like the Omega migraine procedure.
Abortive therapies include breathing oxygen (delivered through a special mask); triptans such as sumatriptan; ergotamine drugs and intranasal lidocaine. For individuals who experience cluster periods of less than two weeks, preventative medication like lithium, verapamil or prednisone may be prescribed to lessen the duration and severity of the headaches.
When cluster headaches are chronic, they can be especially resistant to treatment and in these cases surgery, such as the Omega migraine procedure, could be effective to block trigeminal nerve pain signals.
The University of Maryland Medical Center online medical reference explains that about 80-90 percent of people with cluster headaches experience them between 1 week to 1 year on a regular basis; chronic headache sufferers experience them for longer periods than 1 year with pain free stages lasting no more than one month.
If you aren’t certain whether your headaches are migraines or cluster headaches, you aren’t alone. They are often challenging to classify and misdiagnosed. Your best bet is to consult with a migraine specialist. Since the treatments might be the same for either condition, you could be killing two birds with one stone!