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From the age of 15, Andrew has experienced cluster headaches, which are excruciating attacks of pain in one side of the head, often felt around the eye.
He said: “The pain is like nothing you’ve ever felt before. It starts off with one or two headaches a day, but then ramps up to three or four and they are so bad I have to lie down in a darkened room. Afterwards I’m exhausted.”
Andrew was diagnosed with the condition in his 20s and since then has been treated by The Walton Centre to prevent the painful headaches. When he told his clinician Dr Nick Silver he was getting signs of a relapse weeks before the start of the Olympic Games, the team knew what to do.
“Dr Silver called me and arranged for me to come in for a nerve block injection. I was seen within days and the headaches just disappeared. It was amazingly quick and I can’t thank the team enough. The treatment is excellent and it means I can support our top athletes during the long awaited Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Originally from Salford, the 48 year old flew out to Japan last week to join the team in the training village in Tokyo.
“Cluster headache is one of the most severe pain disorders known to mankind.
“As a Regional Headache Centre that specialises in the management of severe and refractory headache disorders, we receive referrals from around the UK, and it is really important to manage patients with cluster headache in a timely fashion, as this disorder my cause huge disability, distress and disruption to normal working and family life.
“Cluster headache can completely take over normal life and cause severe sleep disruption, mood disturbance, fatigue and difficulties with normal concentration. We are actively engaged in the pursuit and research of new treatments to be able to offer patients increased options to manage their disorder successfully.”
For many patients, the use of urgent nerve blocks can help send in signals to the nerve circuits within the brain that have disordered function to suppress the painful attacks successfully and help turn off other symptoms as well. These are done as in the outpatients department and involve an injection of local anaesthetic with or without steroid near nerves around the head that feed into these headache pain networks.
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