I’ve had chronic pain since 2007 and I have just entered into high school. I’m having trouble concentrating when I have intense pain (I have hemicrania continua with side shift) and I’m still waiting to get into a pain clinic. Are there any tips you can give me to help me get through the pain?
It is unusual, but not unheard of, for someone your age to have hemicrania continua. Hemicrania continua shifting from one side of the head to another is not typical. Diagnosis of types of headaches should be done by a physician specializing in this area. You should be under a doctor’s care. He or she should check out to make sure the diagnosis is correct. A referral to a pain clinic or a headache specialist is needed. Either a pediatric or adult pain clinic or neurologist should be helpful. This type of headache can be misdiagnosed so a careful diagnosis is needed.
As you know, hemicrania continua is the fancy name for a specific type of headache that is marked by constant pain on one side of the head. On top of the constant pain are attacks of more severe pain that can last from minutes to hours several times a day. It is more common in girls than boys. Some people have a remitting form that comes and goes over time. In addition to pain there are usually either autonomic system symptoms or migraine symptoms.
Autonomic system symptoms can include:
- runny nose
- eye redness and discomfort
- puffy eyelids
Migraine symptoms can include:
- feeling like throwing up
- throwing up
- sensitivity to light
- sensitivity to sound
One drug, a type of non steroidal anti inflammatory drug that is also used for gout, indomethacin, is usually effective. However, this drug has rather nasty side effects in terms of stomach bleeding. Other drugs may be effective.
Several studies of brain imaging have detected a very specific pattern of where the headache arises suggesting that this is a very unique type of headache.
In the meantime, I would suggest the following strategies:
- You should learn some type of meditation or relaxation that can help you isolate and reduce the pain. You will have to become really good at it. The exact type of relaxation or meditation is not important. It is likely to help.
- As you have already done, make sure you keep up as many of your activities that you enjoy as you can. Chronic headaches can continue for a long time, so you have to be prepared to continue your life.
- With your parents, you should discuss with your school how, when the pain gets really bad, you may have to put your head down on your desk or lie down for a short time in a quiet place. This would allow you to stay at school, so you can continue when the attack lessens.