The science behind On Point The science behind headache disorders WBUR News


Before Amaal Starling became a doctor herself, her physician diagnosed her with regular migraines.

“I went to Rite Aid across the street and basically consumed containers of Excedrin until I was in medical school, where I realized that there were other options for me to choose from,” she says.

Starling is now treating the growing amount of patients suffering from severe headaches.

Recent research shows that more than half of the population suffered from headache problem in the past year. However, there’s so much that we don’t know the reasons.

This day, On Point the science behind headache conditions.


The doctor is Dr. Amaal J. Starling Associate Professor of Neurology in the Mayo Clinic who studies primary and secondary headache disorders, such as migraines as well as post-traumatic headaches. (@AmaalStarlingMD)

Dr. Peter Goadsby, president of the American Headache Society. Prof. of Neurology, within the University of California, Los Angeles. (@petergoadsby)

Also featured

Margarita Gokun Silver, dealt with frequent headaches. The author of I named my dog Pushkin (and other stories of immigrants). (@MGokunSilver)

Interview Highlights What the writer Margarita Gokun Silver Handles the recurring headaches

Through the majority of her life Margarita Gokun Gold dealt with headaches that were mostly commonplace the routine stress headaches that could be treated with prescription painkillers. Her twenties were over and her life changed.

MARGARITA GOKUN Silver: I believe I was probably in my mid-thirties when I began experiencing really severe migraines. I was out for lunch with my daughter, and the migraine came on like a flash, and it came in such force that I could barely make it back home after lunch. I ran as quick as I was able to. I ran upstairs, and I simply tore everything up.

The pain slowed Margarita down. She could not get up for seven hours and when she finally reached for the bottle of ibuprofen it didn’t do anything.

GOKUN Silver: I’m thinking it was like a train. It’s usually a feeling of pressure just on my eyebrows as well as on my temples. It’s like you’re just pressing those regions extremely, very intensely. All of it starts to resonate within the back of my head.

From then on it was just many decades of trying figure out how I could assist. And they came quite frequently, but every time I saw a doctor they’d be like”Oh, well, in two weeks, it’s not bad at all. And I thought Huh, this is pretty awful every two weeks when you’re off over three days. Because my migraines would last for three days.

She was aware that she was suffering from migraines but Margarita was never able to get a precise reason of the reason she began suffering from these headaches. Doctors were quick to suggest possible treatment options.

GOKUN Silver: I remember that I was first going to doctors , and you know, they would be threatening me with medications or, at one point, I was able to try Botox. I tried to prescribe a medicine that would keep it from happening. It’s true that every medication eventually would be unable to work or give me horrible rebound. The headache would then come back far more severe.

After many failed attempts Margarita tried the acupuncture method.

GOKUN Silver: Well I believe that I visited an acupuncturist, I’d like to say, six months. It did help. The acupuncture sessions started to lessen the intensity of my migraines and they last for a shorter time. Therefore, I continue to return back to the acupuncture. I haven’t had acupuncture for a while, however now my migraines are less severe.

They aren’t as frequent. Therefore, I can deal with them in a simple way, I suppose, by having a break of 2 or 3 days and applying cold compresses which really aids in my head, and, well trying to stay off the screen as I’ve said. If it becomes more severe, then I’m going to go back to Acupuncture.

So Margarita came up with solutions that generally work for her, however these solutions do not answer the questions she has. What caused the headaches appear so abruptly? Why did all the medications do not help her? What was the reason acupuncture was working?

GOKUN Silver: I’m talking about I’m not sure if a doctor has informed me. Acupuncturists are sure to tell me that it’s been proved to aid. However, when it comes to cold compresses go, it’s all about feeling good. It’s a feeling of that I’m in need of it right now. You might laugh at me, but to me, for instance are cans of a drink, coke, beer or something else. If you store it in the fridge it will provide the proper amount of coldness once they apply the product to the part of their eyebrows and it’s a big help.

That’s author Margarita Gokun Silver. If this story sounds like something you’ve experienced even as you press the cold bottle of Coca Cola against your forehead, it’s because it’s very widespread. A new study has found that 52 percent of the world’s population, or more than half, suffered from headache-related issues in the last year.