Almost everyone gets a headache from time to time. Some people, though, get them daily or almost every day. This problem is known as chronic daily headache. Women are twice as likely as men to have it.
Headaches inflict their misery in a variety of ways, from a dull, steady ache to a blinding, throbbing pain. Nearly everyone has them at least occasionally, but an unfortunate few experience near-constant head pain. This report offers in-depth information on the most common kinds of headaches and the treatment strategies that work best for each, including a number of self-help and alternative techniques.
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People with this condition get headaches every day or nearly every day for a prolonged period of time — for example, at least five days a week for a year or longer. Most often, chronic daily headache develops in people who used to get the occasional migraine, tension, or other type of headache. Sometimes chronic daily headache develops without any preamble or warning.
No matter how it originates, chronic daily headache is notoriously difficult to treat and, understandably, often produces anxiety and depression.
Getting control of chronic daily headaches starts with pain relief treatments such as applying a heating pad daily to your neck and shoulders. You may want to ask your doctor to send you to a physical therapist. Techniques such as massage, ultrasound, or gentle stretching to relieve muscle tightness may help keep headaches at bay.
Preventive medications are a good choice for some people. Muscle relaxants are one option. A particularly effective strategy is to combine a tricyclic antidepressant with a beta blocker. For some people who suffer with chronic daily headaches, other medications may be necessary. As with many chronic conditions, it is important to work closely with your doctor to find the preventive and treatment strategies that work for you.
For more on preventing and treating headaches buy Headaches: Relieving and preventing migraine and other headaches, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.