Headache Specialist in Northern California?

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Headache Specialist in Northern California?

Post  DougB on Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:23 am

Our question:  Can you recommend a doctor or clinic in Northern California (ideally, in or near Sacramento), who specialize in migraine/New Daily Persistent Headache/Chronic Daily Headache?

Background:  My son (22) began having severe headaches about two years ago.  He is a college student, but the last couple of semesters, he has found it very difficult to keep up with his studies due to the headaches.  He has an almost constant minor headache, which usually becomes very severe for and hour or two (or longer) each day.  Sometimes the severe headaches come and go several times a day.  Sometimes they pass fairly quickly, sometimes they last for hours.  He has seen doctors in various states where he lived (several neurologists; ear, nose, and throat specialists; heart specialists; and others).  He has tried many migraine medications, as well as medications typically used for seizures, depression, anxiety, etc.  He has had sinus surgery, botox injections, been evaluated for a heart problem (PFO) that is related to migraines, and was recently evaluated for nerve decompression surgery by having a series of injections in nerves all around his head and neck (they didn't help, which indicated that the surgery probably wouldn't either).

Anyway, he is now living at home in the Sacramento area, and we are looking for a headache specialist or clinic that will work with him.  We aren't sure what to try next, but want someone who is open to trying different approaches.  We understand that there may not be a "cure," but we at least want to find the most effective treatment or medication(s) that will enable him to manage/live with his headaches - and be able to continue his education, work, etc.  We have read about the UCSF Headache Center, the Stanford Headache program, and a couple of others.  We are willing to drive to these (about 2 hours each way), but have read mixed reports, the wait is long for appointments, and my impression is that these specialists typically try the same standard medications that others have prescribed for him (but maybe I'm wrong about this), so if there is a good headache specialist in the Sacramento area, that would certainly be more convenient for us - and perhaps get him on a course of treatment sooner.  He currently has prescriptions for various pain and other related medications, but he isn't seeing a specialist in headaches.  Anyway, we would appreciate any suggestions regarding doctors in Northern California.  Thanks

DougB

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Osteopathic Manipulation

Post  mxgo on Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:50 pm

Doug, have you considered Osteopathic Manipulation for your son's headache? I have NDPH, my diagonoses, not a neuro. As you may know NDPH people, 85% of us can tell you the day the headache started, I am no different. We have migraine sypmptoms, but with me they are not episodic.

That said, my Kaiser Roseville neuro, said that no matter the type of headache, he would still try migraine medications. I tried four with no relief, just side effects which I could not endure. He did give me a muscle relaxant Zanaflex, which has helped with the night time headaches.

That said, after 5 years with the constant headache, I switched to a Kaiser PCP who is a Osteopath, specializing in Cranial Osteopathic Manipulation. He referred me to Dr George Allen, D. O. who practices in Nevada City and Natalie Mixon, a Roseville Cranial Sacral Therapist. She trained at the Upledger Institue in Florida. Both of these individuals provided me considerable relief. The headaches are not over, but they are not as bad as they were prior to see those two individuals. I now live in San Jose, where I am seeing another Cranial Sacral Therapist.

Dr Allen, practices 100% manipulation, and gives procaine injections at critical areas of the body. With me, by-pass surgery scars. My kaiser D.O. said that it was important to see a D.O., who specializes in Cranial Sacral Manipulation. At the time, he said that only three of four D.Os, in the Sacramento Area specialized. My Kaiser Osteopath also said he had those injections for a headache he got from an auto accident. He was also seeing Natalie Mixon for his treatments.

I went this route, because, I believe that my constant headaches are due to muscular-skeletal imbalances due to surgeries, wear and tear, and long term statin use.

Sorry for the long posting, but I thought I would give you as much information as possible, in case you want to try going this route.

Martin
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Re: Headache Specialist in Northern California?

Post  DougB on Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:10 pm

Martin,

Thank you very much for taking the time to explain about your experiences - we really appreciate it. We will give the doctor's and approach you suggest serious consideration. It happens that my son's headaches started a few months after he had a couple of accidents (a bicycle crash in which he hit his head hard enough to crack his helmet and knock him momentarily unconscious, and (a few weeks later) being hit by a car while crossing a street, which also knocked him down with a head bump). Neither seemed too serious at the time - except that the bicycle spill resulted in a dislocated shoulder - which became the main focus. However, when he started having the headaches a few months later, we wondered if there was a link. Anyway, thanks again for your suggestions.

Doug

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Re: Headache Specialist in Northern California?

Post  Seaine on Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:25 pm

Doug thanks for posting here.  I did notice that your son has not tried diet changes, or at least you did not mention that in your list of treatments.  Many of us here have found diet changes more helpful than any medications have been.  Something to think about, and you can always search the forums for keywords and find many threads and posts on this topic.  Don't hesitant to think outside the box; obviously you have tried many or most of the standard treatments already.

I agree with mxgo that the symptoms don't sound like classic migraines.  I have had doctors ask me pointed questions about whether or not there are hours in the day where I don't have any headache, so I know this is an important factor in their diagnosis.  Although I get a migraine everyday, there are many hours during the day or night where I have absolutely no headache.  So, my diagnosis is chronic migraine and not daily persistent headache.  It is rather suspicious to me that the headaches started a few months after injuries.

Ironically, when I was in a car accident and had minor whiplash, I actually had short term noticeable relief from my daily migraines. I guess anything near your head/neck/shoulders can really affect headaches.
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Re: Headache Specialist in Northern California?

Post  DougB on Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:41 pm

Seaine,

Thanks for the suggestion to look at diet.  He has tried some diet changes -  various supplements, vitamins, herbs, etc. (as recommended by doctors and or read about on-line) avoiding certain foods, avoiding MSG, drinking extra water, drinking water with salt/gatoraide, etc. - I can't remember everything, but we'll take a look on this forum to see what we may have missed that has worked for others.  He is pretty motivated and disciplined about medications, diet, etc.  I didn't mention everything we've tried - he also tried breathing oxygen, and a number of other things.  He's had lots of tests.  If we read or hear about something that may help and doesn't seem dangerous, he's willing to try it.

Thanks again,

Doug

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doug

Post  dcook60 on Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:07 am

just adding my 2 ¢ here re:MSG.  this avoidance is good for everyone on the planet, because MSG is a known neurotoxin.  but here in the good ol' USA it is an almost impossible substance to avoid, unless one makes each and every bit of food one puts in one's mouth......not easy for anyone but especially a college student.

the problem is, there are some 40-50 OTHER names by which the food manufacturers sneak it in.  you will find good info on msgmyth.com and msgtruth.org if you should want to go that route.  of course, the accidents you describe are likely the cause of your son's pain, but anything that "stirs up" the pot (the head) can make it worse, like what is ingested.  

eating pure and holy-ly has helped me enormously, with my 45-year history of migraines.  there is no cure, of course, but this does help me get through life successfully.  others have mentioned low-carb and other dietary interventions.  as you might imagine, some of us hard-core migraineurs here have tried just about everything out there, with varying degrees of success.

in this "disease/disorder" we have to be our own doctors, unfortunately.  most headache doctors and clinics tend to just throw drugs at a patient and call it good.  it's a rare doc who is willing to dig deeper to find causes.  

best of good fortune to you all.  dianne
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