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tidge
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Instant relief with no medication
« on: Dec 8th, 2005, 4:32am »
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Hi all
 
I have had chronic CH since 1989. I haven't been without one for more than 2 weeks since. Last night I had 5.
 
I've learnt to deal with them and minimize their effect on my function with a simple technique that I have honed over the last 10 years. I hope it helps someone else. I am a doctor so I'll be using medical language - if you don't understand, please visit a doctor with this post for an explanation.
 
It all started with holding my head (right side), placing my small finger on my nasal artery, my ring finger on my temporal artery and my palm on my cheek. I found that occlusion of these vessels helped a little with the pain and my right nostril unblocked quicker (my sign that the CH is on its way). Then I went for the *big one* - the common carotid - with my thumb, other fingers still in place.
 
I learnt how to compress the carotid artery in my neck slowly and carefully, so as to prevent uncomfortable hyperventilation. My thumb must be in my neck, not at the angle of the jaw, because there is a structure there called the carotid body that regulates blood pressure. If you compress that, your brain tells your heart to pump a lot less. If you  compress below (in your neck), your brain tells your heart to pump just a little more.
 
There is no need to worry about your brain not receiving enough blood - you have two vertebral arteries that combine with the carotids at the base of the brain in a circle. So occlusion of one carotid artery (below the carotid body) will result only in decreased blood flow to the external carotid artery on that side. The external carotid provides blood to the face and head outside the skull, where the nerves are that give you the pain (the brain does not have pain receptors). Reducing the pressure in these vessels stimulates a feedback mechanism that tightens the vessels to increase local blood pressure. The vessels constrict and the CH disappears.
 
When I say disappear, I mean disappear - absolutely no pain. But there are a number of nuances and exceptions that you must be aware of:
 
1. Start compression at the first sign of a CH - the earlier the better. I am now at the point that my thumb is in place before I even know that I'm getting a CH. Friends point it out to me before I recognize it myself. If you are sitting at a table, you can rest your head on your hand and no-one will even notice. If you are standing, it looks a little strange, but is a whole lot more comfortable than the CH.
 
2. Compress slowly. If you occlude too quickly you may hyperventilate. This technique takes a while to learn. Find the balance between benefit and discomfort. I now occlude completely within a few seconds, but it took me a while to get there.
 
3. Compress the artery with as much surface area of your thumbprint as possible. You don't want to hurt your neck.
 
4. When the pain has gone, release slowly. If you suddenly take your thumb away, the CH will come back with a vengeance.
 
5. Find the balance between amount of compression/occlusion and CH pain. It has become a mental, meditative exercise for me. Occlude only as much as is neccessary to remove the pain and constantly adjust the pressure as the pain subsides.
 
Unfortunately I still suffer from the nighttime CH. By the time I wake up the CH is at full tilt and compression has minimal effect. I find that a quick dip of the sore half of my head in a basin of cold water has an immediate relieving effect (also based on artery constriction) but is not sustainable until the CH has passed. The nighttime CH's are still tough to handle and are the only ones where I still perform the cluster dance.
 
After trying pretty much every medication in the books for the first five years, I haven't taken any meds for the last ten. I hope this helps you get rid of the expense and dependency that comes with the medication.
 
PS: don't abstain from alcohol - it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)
 
 
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #1 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 6:40am »
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on Dec 8th, 2005, 4:32am, tidge wrote:
PS: don't abstain from alcohol - it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)
 

tidge, you were doing so well  
until that last sentence.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #2 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 7:55am »
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Quote:
tidge, you were doing so well  
until that last sentence.

 
Yup.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #3 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 8:31am »
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on Dec 8th, 2005, 4:32am, tidge wrote:
Hi all
 
 
PS: don't abstain from alcohol - it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)
 
 

 
Thanks for posting the procedure that obviously works for you.
 
Regarding your Alcohol statement - In your dreams Tidge..  I can't get near the stuff without triggering  monsterous attacks and have removed all of it from the house.
 
Some folks don't seem to have alchohol as a trigger but for those that do, the result is self abuse, pain and suffering.
 
Tom
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #4 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 9:13am »
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Dear Bob, Chewy and Burnt-toast
 
Every time I have 1 or 2 beers I get a CH. I sit at the table with my mates, put my thumb in and sit it out - pain-free.
 
Eventually I can take my thumb away. After that, I may get another later on and do the same. It works fine and I can join my friends in the consumption of our soma.
 
If I get hammered, I'm in for a tough night. As soon as I go to sleep, my thumb does too. The hangover comes with CHs too, but interestingly, on the left (other) side of my head, probably because of the previous thumb therapy to the right. Thumb works for the left ones too.
 
You see, the root problem is sympathetic (adrenaline) shutdown to one side of the head. When we are full of adrenaline, our airways dry and open up so that we can fight or flee, our pupils dilate so we can see the danger and our superficial blood vessels constrict so that we don't bleed too much if we're hurt.
 
When sympathetic shutdown occurs, our airways are congested, our pupils constrict and our superficial vessels dilate - classic CH symptoms. Alcohol has a dilatory effect on blood vessels (that's why you get rosy and mosquitoes love you) and is anti-sympathetic, so it is an obvious trigger for clusters.
 
Once I found my diagnosis and knew that I didn't have an aneurysm or tumour, I wanted to make sure that CH affected my life as little as possible. Drinking alcohol is an important social activity in my culture that would leave me lacking if I were not able to participate in it.  I have overcome it with my thumb although, like everyone, I must remember when to stop.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #5 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 9:20am »
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Tidge
 
I have had severe CH since the late 70s. I average 8-12 hits per day. I am not a doctor.
 
I have used your methods and used to think it helped me. I now find it largely a distraction at best and an instigator of further/larger pain during an attack.
I have done every variation as you have described.
 
Currently I do everything possible to try and avoid having my hand touch my head or neck as that signals to me that I have lost mental control of the pain.
 
Regarding your statement on alcohol;
 I can only assume you are a doctor of literature, not medicine. It is statements like that that have caused me to give up on hope from the medically uneducated, illiterate, ridiculously pompuous majority of the medical community.  
 
I really am glad though that you have found what works for you.  
wishing you no pain at all.
 
MJ
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #6 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 9:33am »
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Secondly welcome aboard.
 
I also have made statements I shouldnt have.
I have learned many things here.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #7 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 9:37am »
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Thanks MJ
 
I apologise for using the imperative mood in my alcohol statement. It should read:
 
PS: I don't abstain from alcohol - I find that it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #8 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 9:50am »
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This is one of the few places that "we" can start every sentence with "I", as in me personally.
 
Apology accepted.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #9 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 7:21pm »
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on Dec 8th, 2005, 9:13am, tidge wrote:
Dear Bob, Chewy and Burnt-toast
 
Every time I have 1 or 2 beers I get a CH. I sit at the table with my mates, put my thumb in and sit it out - pain-free.
 

 
Be very glad if you can get away with this.  Alcohol spells disaster for me.  I'm more likely to put my thumb through my neck to get relief from an alchohol triggered attack.
 
Tom
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #10 on: Dec 8th, 2005, 7:58pm »
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Hi, and Welcome,
 
I've tried a number of variations on your technique with little success.  Though your description is pretty good, is there any way to illustrate it?  Sorry ... I'm a visual learner.
 
Not kidding ... Kris
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tidge
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #11 on: Dec 9th, 2005, 9:59am »
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kris, burnt-toast
 
i'll write it up with pics this weekend.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #12 on: Dec 9th, 2005, 10:01am »
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on Dec 9th, 2005, 9:59am, tidge wrote:
kris, burnt-toast
 
i'll write it up with pics this weekend.

 good man!
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #13 on: Dec 9th, 2005, 4:44pm »
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Here's a fairly good diagram of the arteries Tidge is describing.
 
 
 
 
http://education.yahoo.com/reference/gray/illustrations/figure?id=508
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #14 on: Dec 9th, 2005, 5:29pm »
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And a nerve pick I stole from jonny to show the realtionships. Thanks Jonny.
 
on Nov 22nd, 2005, 7:29pm, Jonny wrote:
The yellow/orange nerve is the CH pain transport highway.
 

 
Tidge- I hope you dont mind. Your explanation of methods was very good and my curiosity brought up the pics. I didnt want to let them go.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #15 on: Dec 9th, 2005, 9:19pm »
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on Dec 8th, 2005, 9:13am, tidge wrote:
Drinking alcohol is an important social activity in my culture that would leave me lacking if I were not able to participate in it.

 
Would a fucking doctor say this?
 
Do you really believe this fucking punk?
 
Ive heard less shit coming out of a dogs ass!!
 
 
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #16 on: Dec 10th, 2005, 9:22am »
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Dear Jonny
 
You have obviously never been to Europe.
 
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #17 on: Dec 10th, 2005, 12:35pm »
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A drunk in any language is still a drunk.
 
Using this web site or the pain of clusterheadaches to justify an alcohol abuse problem just doesn't fly with me.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #18 on: Dec 10th, 2005, 9:50pm »
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you have to be kidding me lol no wait lmao .
should i stick my hand in a fire and get over that pain too tie .
if you have any brains at all if you suffer from ch and somethinfg is a trigger why the fuck would you delidratley cause your self to go thru that. my freinds and bissness associates can kiss my fucking small ass im not gonna have a drink to fit in. thats like me saying i know your alergic to peanuts and the y could kill you but if you wanna fit and you want a job youll have to eat a bag of them. that just Fucking stupid.
 
sorry for the lauguage but get over it if ya wanna fit in
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Re: Instant relief with no medications
« Reply #19 on: Dec 12th, 2005, 2:27am »
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Wowee
 
In the last 4 days, I have been:
 
1. called a f-ing punk.
2. told I speak shit like a dog's ass.
3. called a drunk.
4. described as medically uneducated, illiterate and ridiculously pompuous.
5. told I'm f-ing stupid.
 
Is it all because of: "PS: don't abstain from alcohol - it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)" or are there other factors involved here?
 
Unwarranted pain in any animal results in unwarranted aggression. Hence the sensible rule: "Don't approach a wounded animal." There are many wounded animals on this site and I would rather have them express their anger at an anonymous blogger than at their wife and kids. But that's not why I posted in the first place.
 
Initially I visited the site after a tough night and wanted to find whether anyone had found ways of dealing with nighttime ch's. I found no solutions, just anger and misery.
 
I no longer suffer anger and misery with my ch's. I have accepted them as part of me and my physiological, emotional and cognitive constitution. I have developed a technique that provides instant and complete relief for 90% of my headaches. I no longer search for drug remedies. I no longer need to withdraw from any aspect of life because of them. My friends and family are no longer concerned by my condition. Many friends don't even know I get ch's, even though I've had them in their presence. I would like to share my relief, not my pain, with those who suffer and seek the same. That is why I posted.
 
I didn't post to attract attention. I didn't post to express a patronising medical opinion. I didn't post to get up anyone's nose, to piss them off or rubbish their lifestyle.
 
When I stated that I was a doctor, it was an apology for any terms that readers did not understand. I studied medicine and biochemistry for 9 years after school. That kind of training does leave one's vocabulary a little distant from mainstream. I use terms that I am unaware that the reader does not understand. There is a whole load of stuff relevant to ch that I cannot post because it relies too heavily on specialist knowledge and jargon.
 
Doctor's are easily blamed for the attitude and state of the medical industry. Unfortunately they no longer govern the industry. People spend more money on energy and health than anything else. Both industries are now run, not by doctors or engineers, but by financial and political cronies that have taken the capability for discretion away from the true experts and have steered their actions towards pure personal financial profit, despite huge suffering by those they purport to help.
 
This is coupled with a global disregard of specialist knowledge, inspired in the public by politicians and media, so that they do not have to defer to truth in their quest for power and money. They have eschewed intellectuals for their "ridiculously pompuous" attitude and attacked them whenever they have expressed a contradictory, non-profitable opinion. This is not a new concept. It was practised by Mao Tse Tung, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Mullah Omar. Your commander-in-chief, Mister W, is merely continuing an ancient facist tradition that has invariably resulted in implosive failure.
 
So I shall do what other intellectuals have done before in the face of this mentality - withdraw. I am completing my write-up of the technique that has removed my and my loved ones' fear of ch. I'll post it in the Cluster Headache Specific forum in the next 48 hours and then I shall be gone.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #20 on: Dec 12th, 2005, 3:55am »
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Is it all because of: "PS: don't abstain from alcohol - it's not worth the sacrifice ;^)"  
 
Yep - afraid so.
 
Might as well stick around now.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #21 on: Dec 12th, 2005, 7:35am »
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Dear MJ
 
I have posted the write-up under Cluster Headache Specific.
 
Unfortunately I only run https servers, so the pics haven't linked correctly. Please ask site admin to integrate the pics if you consider them worthwhile.
 
In looking for ways to upload the pics, I found the convention photos. Lots of pictures of bars and people drinking beer... hmmm.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #22 on: Dec 12th, 2005, 8:32am »
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Tidge
 
You've already broken the ice by picking a touchy closing line to jump in with...  
 
Might as well stick around now, but that's a call you have to make.  I feel partially responsible for jumping on the alcohol statement.  
 
Between cycles it's clearly not a problem for sufferers to endulge in alcohol.  That's most likely what you see in the pics.  
 
Being chronic - I don't have the option.  But go back a few months and you'll see that this past summer I had a few beers without an attack (The CH eases up somewhat between July & Sept.).  
 
Unfortuantely a few days later I had a few beers again  and  triggered a series of attacks that took weeks and increased doses of meds. to level out again.  I find no value in tempting this nightmare - it doesn't need any extra encouragement.      
 
Tom  
 
 
 
 
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #23 on: Dec 12th, 2005, 6:18pm »
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Hey Tidge, very interested in your technique, glad it works for you.  As far as the alcohol goes, it used to trigger me, but the last 3 years I have been able to drink while IN CYCLE without it triggering.  So I am in agreement, if it doesn't bother you, then hell, drink up.
 
Edit to add, DON'T LEAVE!!!!!!!  In your search for effective ways to combat night-time hits, did you find any information on melatonin?  It works for some, and for some it doesn't, but it is worth a try.  Stick around.
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Religion and sex are powerplays. Manipulate the people for the money they pay. Selling skin, selling God, the numbers look the same on their credit cards. Triptans cause rebounds. Learn it, believe it, live it. I use triptans as the absolute LAST RESORT when treating my CH.
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Re: Instant relief with no medication
« Reply #24 on: Dec 14th, 2005, 12:24am »
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Tidge
 
  Understanding that the night hits are worse simply because the beast gets a better hold on you by the time you wake with the attack . . . . . haven't you tried 02?
  My tank is within reach of the bed and I can wake, reach over and grab the mask, crank open the valve, sit up on the side of the bed, breathe for 5-15 minutes and back to sleep WITHOUT having to "dance".  
 
  Be Safe,
 
    Richard
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