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UTMC neurologist to host headache conference

Suffering from a headache is one of the most common ailments for people in the United States, which is leading health care providers to strive to stay on top of the latest in headache medicine.

Headache education will be furthered at the inaugural North Central Headache Society (NCHS) Conference, “Advances in Headache Medicine,” on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Hilton Garden in Perrysburg.

Dr. Gretchen Tietjen portrait for the UT EXPERT pages

Dr. Gretchen Tietjen

“Headaches are the No. 1 reason for referrals to neurologists and it is one of the most common complaints in the emergency room,” said Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, University of Toledo professor and chair of neurology and director of the UT Medical Center Stroke Program.

Tietjen, the host of the conference, will be among 11 headache experts from five of the states composing the NCHS, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York. About 100 physicians are expected to attend to further their knowledge and better treat patients.

“More than 70 percent of Americans seek medical attention for headaches at some point in their lives, and nearly 5 percent of the population have a near daily headache. Headache disorders account for 9 percent of lost labor in the United States,” Tietjen said. “This is an important topic to address because physicians from all specialties will encounter patients who have disabling headache complaints.”

The treatment of headaches and migraines can include medications, injections, supplements, lifestyle changes and behavioral therapies. Emerging treatments including neuromodulation and monoclonal antibodies will be discussed at the conference.

“Neuromodulation therapies involve electrical or magnetic stimulation,” Tietjen said. “Some devices are portable and offer benefit when used 20 minutes per day. Others are implantable and activated via remote control. For many headache sufferers, these may provide great benefit.”

Tietjen said monoclonal antibodies are another promising treatment option under investigation. The antibodies target calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or its receptor. CGRP is elevated during migraine attacks and believed to provoke throbbing headache.

While the latest technologies hold a promise of relief for headache sufferers, Tietjen said the use of stress-reduction techniques are still an important part of her recommendations.

“Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are all ways that headaches can be minimized,” she said. “When it comes to headache and migraine relief, all evidence-based option should be considered.”

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