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Most people will experience headache pain at some point in their lives. But for some people, their headaches do not respond to over-the-counter pills, let alone prescription medications.
Types of chronic headaches
- Cluster headaches: Severe headaches, typically on one side of the head, that recur in cyclical patterns over several weeks or even months
- Migraines: Extreme headache, typically on one side of the head, that can be accompanies by nausea, blurred vision, sensitivity to lights smells and sounds
- Occipital neuralgia: Severe headache caused by damage or inflammation to the occipital nerves that run from the spinal cord through the scalp
Chronic headache symptoms
If you've been diagnosed with one of the types of chronic headache pain, you may experience:
- Headaches on 15 or more days a month, for at least three months
- Daily headache pain
- Pain on one side of your head
- Nausea or vomiting
Treatment options for chronic headaches at UCLA
When medications cannot relieve the debilitating, throbbing pain of headaches, migraines and occipital neuralgia, you may want to consider surgery. At the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program, we offer two surgical options:
- Deep brain stimulation: Implants electrodes, or wires, deep inside the brain to change irregular brain activity.
- Peripheral nerve stimulation (including occipital nerve stimulation): Implants electrodes directly on nerves or under the skin in the region of pain.
Deep brain stimulation is an off-label procedure for treating cluster headaches. That means it is not yet FDA-approved.