Millions of people in the U.S. suffer with chronic daily headaches and debilitating migraines. It is sad but true to say that every single day in America there are countless thousands of individuals calling off work, avoiding social functions, not spending quality time with their families, popping pills, and sitting in dark rooms in a state of depression — quietly and desperately coping with excruciating pain. It is an epidemic of hopelessness and tragedy, and one is forced to wonder if there is any way for those who suffer chronically from headache and migraine to live normal lives again.
At Headache Center of Chicago we KNOW that many can be helped, but it’s going to take education, better access to care, and a change in the way people think about headache and migraine. These are not easy things to change, though. If they were then millions of people would NOT still be medicating frequently, constantly suffering, and hoping for a breakthrough that never seems to come.
So, let’s start with education. Let’s attempt to expose some of the core issues surrounding the migraine and headache problem by asking some of the most relevant questions to the topic. Dr. Tom Brzostowski, Neuromuscular Dentist at the Headache Center of Chicago will present some answers for your consideration.
Q: The healthcare industry knows how big the problem is, so why are the vast majority of sufferers still not able to find help?
A: Let me first say that there are many contributing reasons we can cite for people not getting the help they need. However, most of these reasons can be looked at as symptomatic of the root problem — and it is a BIG problem.
The root of this problem is twofold: there is a general lack of awareness that non-invasive, drug-free treatments already exist that could help sufferers, and our healthcare industry is dominated by pharmaceutical companies determined to increase drug sales.
Q: Why is there a lack of awareness in the healthcare industry about drug-free treatments that could help most migraine and headache sufferers?
A: Healthcare practitioners who treat various headache and migraine conditions range from general practitioners or family doctors, to Neurologists, Chiropractors, pain management specialists, Neuromuscular Dentists and so on. By and large, it is a medical doctor that most people turn to when seeking help for headache and migraine pain. We can begin there.
Now, as it pertains to MDs, DOs, and medical doctors in general, would it surprise you to know that most of these providers were never taught in medical school about how to specifically diagnose and treat headache and migraine conditions where neuromuscular force problems were involved in causing the pain? It shouldn’t, and here’s why.
The involvement of neuromuscular force problems in headache and migraine pain manifestation has only been truly validated in recent years due to the recent advances in diagnostic technology. We now know for certain that neuromuscular force problems are directly involved in many, many headache and migraine cases. What physicians have been taught in the past, and are STILL taught today in medical school is how to use pharmaceuticals to manage pain symptoms. That’s what the medical schools teach and that’s what both yesterday’s and today’s docs understand.
In our opinion, non-invasive, drug-free alternatives are not being paid attention to in the medical education industry. The focus is on pharmacology for pain management. This is a very serious issue, because there are no known drugs that can cure chronic headache or migraine. Medications can provide some temporary relief for a while, but the pain will always return because the root cause of pain remains untreated by medication. For millions who suffer chronically, medication is not nearly enough.
Q: How are the pharmaceutical companies further contributing to this equation?
A: In the end, health care providers will tend to fall back on what they KNOW to diagnose and treat various conditions. In the case of most doctors treating headache and migraine, prescribing medications to mask the symptoms of pain continues to be the “go-to” treatment regimen because pharmaceutical solutions are taught in medical schools and heavily promoted to practicing physicians by the companies selling them. The same cannot be said for viable alternative treatment protocols that do not involve medications, so knowledge of alternative solutions is not widespread.
Pharmaceutical companies spend truly shocking sums of money to drive sales and distribute drug information to doctors. They are even directly marketing these medications to the public — drugs that are only available by prescription from your doctor. If you watch any TV at all, you know this to be true.
Is the reason why the focus for most medical doctors remains on medication, medication, medication now becoming clearer? It should be. Drug companies are literally flooding the healthcare industry and the public with information about their products — courting providers to prescribe them, patients to ask for them, and insurance carriers to cover them.
What we must all understand is that billions of dollars in sales are at stake. Indeed, there is so much financial incentive for the pharmaceutical giants to continue doing this that a significant paradigm shift is unlikely to occur anytime soon. It’s a case of ‘Goliath beats David’.
Q: What can a suffering individual do for themselves to end this cycle?
A: Think differently about headache and migraine treatment. Investigate the alternatives, and don’t accept medication as your only choice until you have fully explored the options available.
Medications are appropriate for some, but many people can be helped without them. At Headache Center of Chicago we can tell you if there are neuromuscular force issues involved in your pain manifestation. Getting diagnosed at our Westmont, IL office will help you to know if neuromuscular rehabilitation stands a good chance of getting you pain-free without drugs, and for the long-term. If upon diagnosis it is determined that you are a strong candidate for treatment here at HCC, your future may be brighter than you think.