Headache: Hope Through Research
For 2 years, Jim suffered the excruciating pain of
cluster headaches. Night after night he paced the floor, the pain
driving him to constant motion. He was only 48 years old when the
clusters forced him to quit his job as a systems analyst. One year
later, his headaches are controlled. The credit for Jim's recovery
belongs to the medical staff of a headache clinic. Physicians there
applied the latest research findings on headache, and prescribed
for Jim a combination of new drugs.
Joan was a victim of frequent migraine. Her headaches
lasted 2 days. Nauseous and weak, she stayed in the dark until each
attack was over. Today, although migraine still interferes with her
life, she has fewer attacks and less severe headaches than before.
A specialist prescribed an antimigraine program for Joan that
included improved drug therapy, a new diet and relaxation
An avid reader, Peggy couldn't put down the new
mystery thriller. After 4 hours of reading slumped in bed, she knew
she had overdone it. Her tensed head and neck muscles felt as if
they were being squeezed between two giant hands. But for Peggy,
the muscle-contraction headache and neck pain were soon relieved by
a hot shower and aspirin.
An estimated 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches.
For at least half of these people, the problem is severe and
sometimes disabling. It can also be costly: headache sufferers make
over 8 million visits a year to doctor's offices. Migraine victims
alone lose over 157 million workdays because of headache pain.
Understanding why headaches occur and improving headache
treatment are among the research goals of the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). As the leading supporter
of brain research in the Federal Government, the NINDS also
supports and conducts studies to improve the diagnosis of headaches
and to find ways to prevent them.