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Causes and Treatments of Chronic Head Pain

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Most people will get a headache every once in a while. However, if you get a headache more days than not, you might have a chronic headache condition. Having a headache this often can make you dysfunctional. With treatment and long-term management, you may be able to resolve the problem.

The definition of chronic headache is head pain that occurs 15 days or more per month for at least three months. If you have chronic head pain, it may consist of short-lasting or long-lasting daily headaches. The long-lasting ones last for more than four hours.

Types of Long-Lasting Headaches

There are four types of long-lasting headaches. They are:

  • Chronic migraine
  • Chronic tension-type headache
  • New daily persistent headache
  • Hemicrania continua

Causes of Chronic Headaches

The cause of chronic headache is not well understood. True chronic daily headaches are not caused by anything identifiable. However, there are some conditions that could be involved. These include:

  • Inflammation
  • Infections
  • Improper cranial pressure
  • Brain tumor
  • Traumatic brain injury


If you have an underlying condition that is a cause of the head pain, then treating that condition will resolve the pain. If you have no underlying condition, then your doctor will try to resolve the pain itself.

Your doctor may recommend any of the following medications:

  • Antidepressants – Tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used to treat chronic head pain. They may be also useful in combating the depression and anxiety that accompanies chronic headache. Other antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, may help treat your depression and anxiety. However, they don’t seem to be effective against the headache itself.
  • Beta blockers – This kind of medication is usually used for high blood pressure. However, it has been shown to be effective for preventing chronic migraines as well.
  • Anti-seizure medications – Certain anti-seizure medications are helpful in preventing migraines.
  • NSAIDS – Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen sodium can be useful in combating the pain.
  • Botulinum toxin type A – Botox injections may relieve your pain and may be a good alternative to medication for people who don’t tolerate it.

Some people have chronic daily headaches that are resistant to all medications. The only recourse for such patients is to try to determine what the underlying condition is and resolve it. A pain management doctor can help.