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Glossary

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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Glossary

Previous | Headache: Hope Through Research

angiography: an imaging technique that provides a picture, called an angiogram, of blood vessels.

aura: a symptom of classic migraine headache in which the patient sees flashing lights or zigzag lines, or may temporarily lose vision

basilar artery migraine: migraine, occurring primarily in young women and often associated with the menstrual cycle, that involves a disturbance of a major brain artery. Symptoms include vertigo, double vision, and poor muscular coordination.

benign exertional headache: headache brought on by running, lifting, coughing, sneezing, or bending.

biofeedback: a technique in which patients are trained to gain some voluntary control over certain physiological conditions, such as blood pressure and muscle tension, to promote relaxation.

Thermal biofeedback: helps patients consciously raise hand temperature, which can sometimes reduce the number and intensity of migraines.

cluster headaches: intensely painful headaches-occurring suddenly and lasting between 30 and 45 minutes-named for their repeated occurrence in groups or clusters. They begin as minor pain around one eye and eventually spread to that side of the face.

computer tomography (CT): an imaging technique that uses X-rays and computer analysis to provide a picture of body tissues and structures.

dihydroergotamine: a drug that is given by injection to treat cluster headaches. It is a form of the antimigraine drug ergotamine tartrate

electroencephalogram (EEG): a technique for recording electrical activity in the brain.

electromyography (EMG): a special recording technique that detects electric activity in muscle. Patients are sometimes offered a type of biofeedback called EMG training, in which they learn to control muscle tension in the face, neck, and shoulders.

endorphins: naturally occurring painkilling chemicals. Some scientists theorize that people who suffer from severe headache have lower levels of endorphins than people who are generally pain free.

ergotamine tartrate: a drug that is used to control the painful dilation stage of migraine.

hemiplegic migraine: a type of migraine causing temporary paralysis on one side of the body (hemiplegia)

inflammatory headache: a headache that is a symptom of another disorder, such as sinus infection, and is treated by curing the underlying problem.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): an imaging technique that uses radio waves, magnetic fields, and computer analysis to provide a picture of body tissues and structures.

migraine: a vascular headache believed to be caused by blood flow changes and certain chemical changes in the brain leading to a cascade of events - including constriction of arteries supplying blood to the brain and the release of certain brain chemicals - that result in severe head pain, stomach upset, and visual disturbances.

muscle-contraction headaches: headaches caused primarily by sustained muscle tension or, possibly, by restricted blood flow to the brain. Two forms of muscle-contraction headache are tension headache, induced by stress, and chronic muscle-contraction headache , which can last for extended periods, involves steady pain, and is usually felt on both sides of the head.

nociceptors: the endings of pain-sensitive nerves that, when stimulated by stress, muscular tension, dilated blood vessels, or other triggers, send messages up the nerve fibers to nerve cells in the brain, signaling that a part of the body hurts.

ophthalmoplegic migraine: a form of migraine felt around the eye and associated with a droopy eyelid, double vision, and other sight problems.

prostaglandins: naturally occurring pain-producing substances thought to be implicated in migraine attacks. Their release is triggered by the dilation of arteries. Prostaglandins are extremely potent chemicals involved in a diverse group of physiological processes.

serotonin: a key neurotransmitter that acts as a powerful constrictor of arteries, reducing the blood supply to the brain and contributing to the pain of headache.

sinusitis: an infection, either viral or bacterial, of the sinus cavities. The infection leads to inflammation of these cavities, causing pain and sometimes headache.

status migrainosus: a rare, sustained, and severe type of migraine, characterized by intense pain and nausea and often leading to hospitalization of the patient.

thermography: a technique sometimes used for diagnosing headache in which an infrared camera converts skin temperature into a color picture, called a thermogram, with different degrees of heat appearing as different colors.

temporomandibular joint dysfunction: a disorder of the joint between the temporal bone (above the ear) and the lower jaw bone that can cause muscle-contraction headaches.

tic douloureux: see trigeminal neuralgia

traction headaches: headaches caused by pulling or stretching pain-sensitive parts of the head, as, for example, when eye muscles are tensed to compensatea condition resulting from a disorder of the trigeminal nerve. Symptoms are headache and intense facial pain that comes in short, excruciating jabs. for eyestrain.

trigeminal neuralgia: a condition resulting from a disorder of the trigeminal nerve. Symptoms are headache and intense facial pain that comes in short, excruciating jabs.

vascular headaches: headaches caused by abnormal function of the brain's blood vessels or vascular system. Migraine is a type of vascular headache.

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