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What Are the Different Types of Headache Pain Management?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Different types of headache pain management include taking over-the-counter pain relievers and taking prescription medications. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications quickly work to relieve pain and swelling associated with tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Although effective in treating headache pain, anti-inflammatory medications can cause side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, fluid retention, and in some cases, gastrointestinal bleeding. People with kidney problems or high blood pressure should talk to their health care providers before taking anti-inflammatory medications.

Prescription pain relievers are sometimes necessary for those suffering from migraine headaches and are known as triptins. These medications often work quickly to reduce pain and nausea, however, can cause nervousness and shakiness. Migraine medications are sometimes given via injection but are also available in oral forms. Codeine-based prescription medication can also help relieve pain from severe headaches. They should only be taken under the strict supervision of the health care provider because they can cause physical dependence and side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, and dizziness.

An effective, but simple method of headache pain management is applying a cold or warm compress against the head. Compresses can be used anytime, and they work to soothe tense muscles in the head and neck. Good posture also plays a key role in headache pain management. People who sit slumped over a computer all day are prone to headaches and neck pain. By sitting up straight, muscles are less likely to become tense and sore. Ergonomically friendly office chairs can also encourage correct posture and reduce muscle fatigue.

A frequently overlooked headache pain management remedy is exercise. Getting enough exercise can dramatically improve the severity and incidence of tension headaches. Exercise relieves excess stress and relieves muscle tension and stiffness. The health care provider should be notified, however, when a new exercise regimen is being considered. In addition, people new to exercise should start out slow and then build to a higher intensity as tolerated.

Those suffering from chronic headaches should talk to a health care provider, who might recommend further evaluation to determine the cause of the headaches. To devise the most effective headache pain management program, the cause of the headaches need to be determined. For example, headaches can be caused by visual problems and are frequently eliminated after corrective lenses have been prescribed. Eye strain is one of the most common causes of headaches, but one of the most under diagnosed.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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