I have had the most excruciating headache for 4 months, since April, and I've gotten to the point where I just can't take the pain anymore. Like four months is my absolute limit. I've just started sharing the story of my pain with friends and family and they're shocked that I've waited this long. I know, I know, I tell them, but I'm just too busy and don't have time to deal with this much less a cold virus. I've been in denial and keep hoping it will go away. I've tried massage, relaxation techniques, massive quantities of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. I've held together this facade that nothing's wrong for so long but can't do it anymore....I'd rather throw myself under a bus than go on for even another month of this pain.
My pain feels like a vise has got an iron grip on my skull and it never lets up -- doesn't matter if I'm resting or active. And the pain is in a very specific area. It's only on one side of my head (the left), and it starts in my neck at the base of my skull, just behind my ear, and it radiates up and back, spreading out in a circle and stopping at the top of my head. In the early days, it would pulsate, but now the pain is ever constant.
I finally went to my primary care physician about it this past Wednesday and his first inclination was that it is Occipital Neuralgia, where the Occipital nerves around the back of the head are inflamed and basically very irritated, causing intense pain. The area of the pain fits that diagnosis to a "t." But the problem is that typically O.N. is triggered by something, like an injury or whiplash, which I haven't experienced. My doctor sent me the very next day, Thursday, to see a headache/pain specialist and he gave me two steroid injections at the base of my skull to calm down those nerves. Unfortunately it takes a good three days for the steroids to take effect. Today's Saturday and it still hasn't kicked in.
In the meantime, my doctor had me do a spinal tap on Thursday night at the hospital (let me tell you, a spinal tap is NOT a joy), just to rule out really bad stuff like meningitis. The results have already come back -- and all was negative, which is a relief. He also had me do an MRI to look for a tumor, bleed, etc., but those results won't be back for a another three days or so.
So as I wait for the steroid injections to kick in, I'm on a pain killer which I'm totally loving, but it makes me drowsy and I can't drive while taking it. So Monday will be back to work and (painful) reality, ... unless by chance the steroid is helping by that point.
The pain specialist is a little skeptical that I have Occipital Neuralgia since we don't know of an "event" that caused it. He's leaning more towards migraine, except that doesn't really fit either because he says I'm not in the right age category (I'm 43) and have never had a migraine before, and plus hardly ever get headaches anyway. And I don't have the classic symptoms of a migraine.
So it's still a mystery. But all I know is I want my pain-free life back.
Although I haven't had an injury, I did have an "event" right before this head pain started. I had the Swine Flu (along with my three kids), and I'm wondering if a virus like that can attack or impair nerves like the Occipital nerves. I've been so exhausted by this pain that I haven't taken the time to research that.
In any case, if anyone has any ideas at all to throw my way, I'll be eternally grateful for any and all input!
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