Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

New Ways to Split a Headache


Regular use of the painkiller codeine can actually increase sensitivity to pain.

By James Swift, Jacinta Johnson & Paul Rolan

Chronic headache is poorly understood and notoriously difficult to manage, but immune-targeted medications and electrical stimulation could provide fresh insight into the root cause and treatment of this debilitating condition.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Picture this scenario: you’ve had a hectic afternoon, you haven’t had time to eat since breakfast and your head feels like it’s trapped in a vice that slowly tightens its grip as time passes by. Does this sound familiar? If so, you are one of the many who have suffered with a headache classified as a tension-type headache.

Or perhaps a throbbing pain is engulfing one side of your head, the light and sound in the room feels like it’s amplifying the pain, and you start to feel a rising sense of nausea? These symptoms are typical of another type of headache known as migraine. And while tension-type and migraine account for the vast majority of all headaches, there are many other presentations of this condition too.

Anyone can experience a headache in one form or another. More than 90% of people do at some point during their lifetime, but what can be done about it? For most of us relief can be sought through simple means such as a breath of fresh air, a glass of water, a lie down or a dose or two of simple painkiller medication.

However, headaches are not merely an occasional hindrance for 2–3% of the community. Some people experience headache on a daily or near-daily basis, a condition referred to as “chronic headache”. Increased frequency isn’t the only hallmark of this condition; it also carries with it increased severity of pain and can be associated...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.