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Headache

A condition consisting of pain in the head or upper neck. It may occur on one or both sides of the head, either isolated to a certain location or radiating from one point of the head to another. There are 4 main types of “primary” headache:

  • Cluster headache – A condition of severe, recurring pain typically isolated on one side of the head. This type of headache is characterized by the “clustering” or frequent pattern of headaches occurring in the area.
  • Episodic cluster headaches —A type of cluster headache that occurs one or more times daily for several weeks. There may be a period of remission after having this type of headache for some time, but the symptoms tend to reappear.
  • Chronic cluster headaches—A type of cluster headache that occurs almost daily with shorter periods of remission.
  • Migraine headache – A type of recurring headache that incorporates more issues with sensation, such as incurring visual changes. Unlike other headaches, a migraine is affected more by blood vessels, nerves and brain chemicals. This type of headache can occur less frequently than a cluster headache, but the symptoms may be more severe and interfering with everyday life situations.
  • Tension headache – A type of headache associated with stress and muscle contraction. As the name suggests, this headache occurs most frequently in response to a stressful event. Areas of pain include the upper back and neck, around the ears and above the eyes.
  • Sinus headache – A type of headache associated with head and facial pain caused by the inflammation of a person’s sinuses. The onset of this headache is typically a response to allergies and cold symptoms.

Other, “secondary” headaches may also occur due to an underlying structural problem in a person’s head or neck. These types of headache are caused by factors such as bleeding in the brain, brain tumors or incurring cases of meningitis and encephalitis.

Causes
The cause of a headache can vary depending on the type it is. A tension headache is caused most typically by the onset of a stressful event, whereas a sinus headache is the result of responding to allergies or cold symptoms. Finding a direct cause of both a migraine and cluster headache is more difficult, however, but may be due to abnormal brain activity, dietary changes, modifications in sleeping patterns or drug/alcohol abuse.

Symptoms
Headaches consist mainly of pain, ranging from mild to severe. Pain symptoms can consist of a sharp pain, throbbing sensation or dull ache. It may appear gradually or suddenly, and may last for varied amounts of time. Other symptoms can include blurred vision, dizziness, visual apparitions (commonly referred to as auras), nausea, change in mood and sensitivity to light and noise.

After a headache subsides, a person may feel a sense of fatigue, soreness in certain muscles and trouble concentrating.

Treatment Procedures
The most common treatment of a headache is with pain medication, such as over the counter drugs. However, overuse of certain types of medication can actually trigger a headache to occur. Another popular treatment technique involves headache therapy, where a person learns preventative techniques to help recognize and treat the onset of a headache. For more severe headaches, surgery may be done to relieve pressure or “deactivate” a triggered nerve that is causing the symptoms to recur.

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Heart Attack

A condition that causes damage to the tissue of the heart when blood flow to this area is interrupted. When oxygen cannot get to the heart muscle, parts of its tissue are damaged or even die off.

Causes
A heart attack occurs whenever normal blood flow to the heart muscle is interrupted. This is most commonly caused from blockage of a coronary artery, the blood vessel that supplies the heart with blood and oxygen. Such blockage can stem from a condition called atherosclerosis, a gradual process by which cholesterol plaque is collected in the wall of an artery, as well as from another condition called angina pectoris, pressure occurring within the chest when blood flowing to the heart muscle cannot keep up with the muscle’s needs.

Symptoms
Victims of a heart attack most often feel pain and pressure within their chest, shortness of breath, nausea, loss of consciousness, anxiety, stomach pain and back and shoulder pain.

Treatment Procedures
Although many heart attacks can be fatal, improved awareness and treatments have helped many people to survive serious attacks. Treatments for a heart attack can include prescribing certain medications and clot-dissolving agents to an individual, physical therapy to regain strength and sometimes surgery if several blockages are found. Typical surgical procedures include coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), atherectomy and balloon angioplasty in order to remove any blockage from the artery.

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Hematoma

A collection of blood leaking outside of a blood vessel into the tissues surrounding it. This is most commonly caused from a rupture, or break, in the wall of a blood vessel, either from direct trauma to it or deformities in the vessel itself.

The most common cases of hematoma occur in the brain, such as asubdural hematoma and subarachnoid hematoma.

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Herniated Disc

A condition that occurs when there is a rupture in the cartilage surrounding a vertebral disc, causing the disc to abnormally bulge out from its normal position in the vertebral column. This tends to be most common in the lower spine area.

Causes
This condition may occur when discs lose their water content and become flatter, providing less cushion in the affected area. As a result, the inside part of the disk may tear through the outer cushioning that causes the abnormal bulge.

Herniated discs may be caused by automobile accidents or other types of crashes where trauma is exerted on the spine. When an individual is in an automobile accident, their spine may be put under too much pressure to where one or more of their discs bluge out of the normal position.

Symptoms
Symptoms of a herniated disc include differing amounts of pain in the affected area, depending on how large the herniation is as well as other similar factors. Numbness and tingling (often in the neck and arms) may occur due to the pressure a herniated disc exerts against one or more of the spinal nerves.

Treatment Procedures
Common procedures for a herniated disc include physical practices, such as spine stretching, physical therapy techniques and using hot and cold packs to help relieve muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants and other pain relievers may be prescribed as well.

If an individual does not respond to other treatments, there are options for surgical procedures. This can include:

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Hip Fracture

An injury where there is a break in the thigh bone just below the hip joint. The joint is made up of the thigh bone and rounded pelvic socket being connected at the top by a “ball”. Two main types of hip fractures can occur:

  • Femoral neck fracture – a break in the thigh bone about 1-2 inches beneath the ball portion of the hip
  • Intertrochanteric fracture – a break in the thigh bone lower than 1-2 inches beneath the ball portion of the hip

Causes
The most frequent cause of a hip fracture is falling, where a direct blow is administered to the area. Indirect causes can include osteoporosis, where the bones are weakened through a thinning process, and other bones conditions such as tumors.

Another cause of a hip fracture results from injury sustained in an automobile accident or motorcycle accident, where an individual is exposed to amounts of high exertion.

Symptoms Medium to severe pain, inability to stand and walk and abnormal appearances of the leg (such as turning outward) can be symptoms of a hip fracture.

Treatment Procedures
For a femoral neck fracture, the blood supply to the fractured portion of bone is often disrupted at the time of injury. Blood flow may therefore be diminished, making this fracture a high risk of not healing and requiring a partial hip replacement.

An intertrochanteric fracture, on the other hand, does not damage the blood flow to the bone. This means that a hip replacement is usually not needed, only using surgery to realign the fractured bone with metal plates and screws.

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