Cluster Headaches Specialist

William  D. Stratford, MD -  - Headache Specialist

Your Migraine Care

William D. Stratford, MD

Headache Specialist & Board-Certified Psychiatrist located in Missoula, MT

Cluster headaches are known for causing extreme pain, occurring daily, and lasting up to several months or in some cases, as long as a year. The team at Your Migraine Care offers today’s most advanced and effective treatment for cluster headaches, an in-office procedure using the SphenoCath® catheter to deliver rapid-acting, pain-blocking medication. To learn more about getting long-lasting relief from cluster headaches, call one of the offices in Missoula, Montana, to schedule an appointment.

Cluster Headaches

What are cluster headaches?

Once a cluster headache begins, you’ll have headaches daily or every other day for several weeks to months. Many patients have multiple headaches every day that typically appear at the same time of the day or night.

If you have episodic cluster headaches, you’ll go into remission once the headaches stop. Your remission may last months to years.

However, if you develop chronic cluster headaches, you’ll have headaches for a year or longer. With chronic cluster headaches, you may have a short remission or never go into remission.

Do cluster headaches have triggers?

Alcohol, especially red wine, is one of the top triggers, provoking an attack in about half of people who suffer from cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are also associated with cigarette smoking, stress, nitrate-containing foods like cured meats, and strong smells such as nail varnish, paint, and petroleum.

What symptoms develop during cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches often start at night with sudden, severe pain that’s located on one side of your face, behind your eye or temple. The pain rapidly increases, reaching an agonizing intensity within 10-15 minutes. Each cluster headache lasts 15 minutes to three hours before the pain disappears as suddenly as it began.

In addition to your headache pain, you’ll have at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Red eye
  • Eyelid or facial swelling
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Runny or congested nose

Eye symptoms only affect the eye where the pain is focused. Many patients also have forehead or facial sweating, feel restless, and have the urge to pace or rock back-and-forth.

How do you treat cluster headaches?

The standard medical treatments for cluster headaches include high-flow oxygen therapy and medications such as sumatriptan injection or nasal spray. An injectable medication, Emgality®, was approved in June 2019.  

Emgality reduces the frequency of cluster headaches by blocking a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is released by nerves in your head. CGRP transmits headache pain signals to your brain and induces cluster headaches. As a result, blocking CGRP significantly diminishes pain and reduces headaches.   

The team at Your Migraine Care offers another safe and highly effective option: a sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block. The SPG is a group of nerves in your upper nasal passageway that transmit cluster headache pain signals to your brain.

Your provider at Your Migraine Care inserts the SphenoCath® through your nose, where it quickly delivers CGRP-blocking medication directly to the SPG. You gain immediate and long-term relief from cluster headache pain.

If you need relief from cluster headaches, call Your Migraine Care to schedule an appointment.