Headache Treatment Specialist

David Wu, MD

Interventional Pain Management Specialist & Orthopedist located in South Bay, Torrance, CA & El Segundo, CA

While almost everyone has experienced at least one memorable headache at some point, many people live with frequent headaches. It’s estimated that about 30 million Americans deal with chronic migraines — recurring headaches known for their severe, throbbing pain. At his pain management practice in Torrance, California, Pain medicine physician Dr. David Wu treats patients affected by all types of headache pain, including chronic migraines. If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, call or request your appointment online today.

Headaches Q & A

What are primary headaches?

Primary headaches are caused by a problem with your head’s pain-sensitive structures, which include the nerves and blood vessels around your skull, the chemical activity in your brain, and the muscles in your head. There are more than 150 distinct types of primary headaches, including:

Tension headaches

The most common form of chronic headache pain, tension headaches are muscle contraction headaches that cause mild to moderate pain that comes and goes over time.

Migraine headaches

Migraine pain is frequently described as moderate to severe, with pounding, throbbing pain. Along with sensitivity to light, noise, and odors, migraines may be accompanied by vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Migraine headaches usually last for a few hours to several days. People who have chronic migraines often find that they interfere with daily life.

Cluster headaches

These headaches bring severe pain that may be throbbing or constant and often are accompanied by burning or piercing sensations. Cluster headache pain is often felt behind one eye.

Cluster headaches typically appear several times a day during a so-called cluster period. They also can disappear for long periods, sometimes years, before recurring.

What causes migraines?

Although headache experts don’t always completely understand exactly what prompts a reaction in the pain-sensitive structures in your head, migraines are associated with a wide range of potential triggers, including:

  • Increased stress or fatigue
  • Shifts in sleep patterns
  • Female hormonal changes
  • Sensory stimuli, including bright lights or strong scents
  • Environmental or seasonal changes
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Certain foods, such as aged cheese

What are secondary headaches?

Secondary headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches, are brought on by an illness or underlying physical ailment. Whereas primary headaches begin in the head, secondary headaches start in your neck and spread to your head.  

Secondary headaches are most often associated with conditions that affect the cervical spine, such as facet syndrome, or pain between the joints of your spine.

How are chronic headaches treated?

After Dr. Wu definitively diagnoses your headache pain based on your symptoms, family and medical history, physical exam, and comprehensive neurological assessment, he can develop a customized treatment plan.

Because most headaches are related to the nerves in your face, head, and neck, they can often be managed with oral or injected medications designed to block pain, reduce inflammation, and alleviate your symptoms.

If you suffer from chronic migraines, your treatment plan may include pain-relief medications that you can take during a migraine attack or preventive medications that aim to reduce the frequency or severity of your headaches.