Help with Headaches

Help with Headaches

Headaches are a common problem with an estimated 83% of children and 71% of adults reporting them. Age and gender, in addition to the subjective descriptions of headaches, account for the differences in those who experience them.

In migraine headaches, which are debilitating headaches that may be associated with a neurological condition, women are more affected than men. Fifteen to eighteen percent of women report migraines, compared to six percent of men. Migraines occur more commonly in women and men between 25-55 years of age. Most non-migraine headaches are likely caused by muscle contraction or tension.

The likelihood of an underlying abnormality causing headaches is small. For example, brain tumors occur in only 46 out of 100,000 people in the United States. Headaches are a symptom in only half of brain tumors.

Obtaining a thorough patient history and physical exam remain key to headache evaluation. Valley’s Headache Clinic, part of our Neuroscience Institute, diagnoses and treats all forms of headaches, from the most benign to the warning signs of a serious condition. Physicians and staff combine extensive experience, compassion and the latest technology in addressing health problems due to headache.

When imaging is recommended to help diagnose headaches, our neurologists and neuroradiologists work together to help find the cause and treatment. Computed Tomography (CT), CT Angiography (CTA), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), MR Angiography (MRA), and Catheter Angiography continue to be the most common imaging techniques to evaluate headaches.

State-of-the-art imaging services. Vantage Diagnostic Imaging Services is an outpatient imaging center located in the Olympic building on the Valley Medical Center campus. The center offers three different MRI scanners and a low radiation dose CT: The strengths and shape of these MRI magnets differ, servicing the various needs of our patients. For patients who experience claustrophobia or have a condition preventing use of traditional MRI, Vantage offers an open-sided MRI.

Tumors rare. Because tumors are rare and only half cause headache symptoms, when imaging is performed because of headaches, the findings may be normal. However when the cause of headaches can be found, the information may be used to improve the headache sufferer’s quality of life and ability to work.

Neurology team review. After your neurologist’s evaluation and upon his or her recommendation, complicated cases are eligible for a neurology team review at a monthly meeting among neurosurgeons, neurologists and neuroradiologists. Together, while reviewing patient history, surgical options and imaging results, the team works to define next treatment steps and additional imaging which may be useful in determining a diagnosis and treatment.

Experience improvement. Valley’s Headache Clinic neurologists have a track record of successfully managing many conditions and alleviating suffering. More than ninety percent of patients have experienced improvement in their headaches, resulting in less time lost from work and other important activities of daily life.

If you or someone you know suffer from headaches, please call the Headache Clinic at 425.656.5566, option 1.

Mark Piker, MD and Yahua Yu, MD
Headache Clinic, Neuroscience Institute

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office