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#53 Headaches -

Today I’m going to tackle the subject of headaches. At my support group recently, I heard headaches are a problem suffered by many. Most of my previous subjects are personal issues, but headaches are not an issue for me.  That means more research, especially for the causes and of course the treatments.

Headaches can occur pre-treatment of the acoustic neuroma and indeed can even be the first symptom of an acoustic neuroma. Why? I found this on the Johns Hopkins website – “As the AN grows, the capsule of the tumor presses upon the lining of the inside of the skull (the dura). The dura has sensory fibers that can transmit the sensation of the pressure. The headache that results from the acoustic neuroma can be dull or aching in quality and is usually unilateral. The headache may “radiate” to the neck, top of the head or front of the head.”

This would mean to me if the acoustic neuroma is removed via surgery, the headaches ought to be gone. Not so. In the following abstract, the number of patients suffering from headaches doubled after surgery.

“Headache and depression were studied in patients who had undergone operation for acoustic neuroma. A questionnaire with headache and Beck Depression Inventory scale were sent to 228 patients, of whom 192 (84%) responded. Preoperative headache was reported by 61 (32%) of the respondents (47 migraine and nine tension-type headache) and 122 (64%) respondents had postoperative headache (15 new migraine and four new tension-type headache). The new postoperative headache was chronic (>/=3 months) in 86% and continued at the time of the survey in 55% and presented typically as severe short-lasting attacks provoked by physical stress, bending or coughing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were effective in most cases. Depression (usually mild) occurred in 24% of the respondents, being significantly more common in prolonged postoperative headache patients. The operation doubled the prevalence of headache (from 32% to 64%). Headache after acoustic neuroma operation appears to be a specific subgroup of postcraniotomy headache.”

On the Acoustic Neuroma Forum of questions and answers found at (link to website) I was shocked to see 4,260 comments when I searched for post-treatment headache issues. The headaches were both post-surgery and post-radiation.

Many talked about the misery of the pain and how long it has been going on. Here’s one comment – “the pain has been corrosive to my emotional and mental health over a long period of time, and it is really important not to retreat from friends and family, even when it is hard, try to stay connected to people. It will help, emotionally, if not physically. Hope you get some answers and some good treatment soon.”

Many patients talked about the headaches really hurting after the reduction of steroid therapy. As a side note here – I begged my doctor to continue my steroid (prednisone) when it helped my hearing which tanked out 6 months after radiation. He wouldn’t do it because he said the side effects are not good with long term therapy.

Next blog I will be talking about medications and other ways of treating the headaches.

Here is a website for lots of information about headaches and acoustic neuroma. Much of the information is technical.     https://acusticusneurinom.dk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/booklet_-_headache.2012_-_final.pdf

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Readers, Do you suffer from headaches? What gives you some relief?

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Dear Jesus, please help all those who suffer from headaches. Help them to continue to seek help, especially when the current doctor doesn’t have an answer. Amen.

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:1


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