Headaches are an uncommon occurrence for most people. For some people, though, headaches occur frequently, and can be so severe and intense that they are debilitating. When headaches occur frequently, they can force a person to stop working altogether.
Disabling headaches are a non-specific symptom and may be caused by a range of conditions. Therefore, it is crucial for a person to seek medical treatment to learn the cause of their headaches. If a family doctor cannot diagnose the condition causing headaches, then the patient will likely be referred to a neurologist.
Objective testing that explains the cause of the headaches may strengthen the disability claim, so it is important for the patient to undergo any sort of applicable testing. However, the cause of headaches is often not detectable in CT scans or other testing. If the headaches are not explained by test results, then the patient should work with their physicians to determine if any environmental factors are contributing to their headaches.
In cases where the headaches are severe, a patient may be experiencing migraine headaches. Migraines are characterized by moderate to severe headaches along with some of the following symptoms: photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sound), pulsating, pain on one side of the head, and nausea/vomiting. Again, it is essential for a patient to explain his or her symptoms to their physicians so that the best course of treatment can be planned. Treatment for migraines may include prescription medications, injections, and attempting to remove trigger sources.
Severe headaches may require a patient to seek treatment at a hospital emergency department or an urgent care facility. Medical records from treatment at these emergency facilities are important for documenting the patient’s symptoms. Disability claimants should report all emergency treatments in their application for a disability claim.
It is not always practical for the patient to seek emergency treatment though. If the patient is regularly experiencing headaches, it is helpful for them to maintain a headache diary. As well as providing information to the patient’s doctors, a headache diary is very important for providing documentation in a disability claim. A sample diary can be found at WebMd: Medical records from treatment at these emergency facilities are important for documenting the patient’s symptoms.. If the headache diary is carefully maintained and kept up-to-date, it can be very useful in describing the frequency, severity, and duration of headaches. Moreover, it can include descriptive details of the headaches, like whether nausea and sensitivity to light were symptoms of that headache. Finally, a patient should provide this headache diary to their neurologist and family physician so that their medical providers are fully aware of the extent of the patient’s symptoms.
For smartphone users, there are even applications that help record a person’s headaches. For iPhone users, they can document their headaches using iHeadache. Android users can document their headaches using Headache Diary. Also, Healthline recently featured 13 different apps available on either iPhone or the Google Play store for those who suffer from migraines: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-migraine-iphone-android-apps
If a person is disabled due to frequent and severe headaches, then the most important steps include seeking regular medical treatment, attempting to learn the cause of the headaches, and consistently documenting the frequency, severity, and duration of the headaches. Following these steps will help a claimant explain to their insurer or the Social Security Administration why their headaches are preventing them from working. If you have severe headaches and your disability benefits have been denied, contact the O’Ryan Law Firm so that we may investigate your case today.