Author: G. Brent Lucas, B.A.,
Help for Headaches
Reviewed by: Irene Worthington, R.Ph, B.Sc.Phm, Pharmacist,
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre & Headache Network Canada
Help for Headaches is a registered Canadian charity that serves Ontario, and some outlining regions via the internet. Moving into its 15th year, the charity has programs that 100% free and educates patients on various headache types, while also displaying articles on their treatment as suggested by headache neurologists. The charity is totally voluntary and is a member of the World Headache Alliance and also the Canadian Pain Society. It is also supported by our national headache organization – Headache Network Canada www.headachenetwork.ca. Although Help for Headaches is a lay headache charity, many scientists and health professionals will find the information on the website useful. Most contact is done through the website http://www.headache-help.org, which also lists the book’s table of contents, as well as a link to the order page.
“Headaches that Persist” is written in every day language for the most part (although a few sections use more complex terminology). Although the title implies that the book is about chronic headaches, it actually discusses all types of headaches, including episodic migraine, cluster headache, and other rare types of headaches. As stated in the preface, “Headache is one of the most common complaints to mankind, yet little is known about its complexity”. “Headache is a valid biological disorder”, that is often “misunderstood and inaccurately diagnosed”, and can significantly affect the quality of life of sufferers and their families. By becoming more educated about headaches and their management, the sufferer will become more empowered, and better able to manage and cope with their disorder. This book will help empower headache sufferers.
The book includes topics such as headache categories, neurotransmitters involved in migraine, acute medications, preventative medications, alternative therapy, self-help techniques, headache triggers, diagnostic tests for headache, online headache tests, headaches in the emergency room, headaches due to head injuries and neck problems, chronic daily headache, fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue and headache, women’s issues (e.g., menstrual migraines, pregnancy and headaches, oral contraceptives), headaches in children, adolescents and people over 50, travel, stress, and environment. It also includes a chapter on how to prepare for your physician visit, diaries and record keeping, and headache-related disability. The information has been reviewed by headache neurologists or pain experts. There is also a final chapter listing headache resources in Canada, the U.S. and internationally, as well as how to use the internet to locate headache information/research.
I would recommend the book to headache sufferers, their families, employers, and health professionals that deal with headache patients. I would have liked to see more detailed information about the various medications used in headache management. There are a few minor inaccuracies – for example a statement that “feverfew is the only herbal remedy studied in double blind fashion”. Overall, feverfew may only have a small benefit in some patients. Butterbur has also been studied in a double-blind fashion and shown to be efficacious in migraine prevention.
Headaches that Persist is not available in bookstores and must be purchased through the website – http://www.headache-help.org. The book was totally reviewed and contributed to by over 30 headache neurologists, pain experts and a pharmacist. It was also recently featured in the Toronto Star (Dec 30, 2009).