Johannesburg - Worse than childbirth, worse than accidental amputation. A pain so acute, old medical books referred to the condition as the “suicide headache” because it was not uncommon that cluster headache sufferers would take their lives to escape it.
But a Joburg breakthrough in treating cluster headaches may offer an end to the pain, and a chance to live without the daily episodes that last between 45 minutes and two hours.
In an article published in the journal of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, Dr Elliot Shevel – the medical director of the Migraine Research Institute – described for the first time a treatment that targets the artery outside the brain responsible for the pain.
Cluster headaches are characterised by intense, shooting pain concentrated behind the eye, occurring several times a day for periods of months at a time that recur annually.
For years, sufferers were referred to neurologists, whose area of expertise was the inside of the brain.