18700 N. 64th Dr., Suite 301, Glendale, AZ 85308
Headache Treatment Specialist
Dr. Harter has long had an interest in headache treatment, since she herself and a number of friends and relatives suffer from migraines. She became one of only two physicians in Arizona to pass the first national board exam in headache medicine, in 2006.
She uses a three-pronged approach: thorough dietary review, preventative vitamins/supplements or medicines if needed, and proper use of acute or “abortive” medicines (to abort the headache when it does break through the preventative meds.) She brings a holistic approach to headache treatment, addressing diet and other lifestyle factors before proceeding to medications. Her emphasis is always on prevention.
One preventative treatment that is very helpful in chronic migraine, particularly when other treatments have failed, is Botox®. Dr Harter has administered Botox with great success to hundreds of headache patients from all over Arizona since 2004.
The following headache frequently asked questions are provided by the National Headache Foundation and is provided for educational purposes. If you have additional questions about headaches and headache treatment options please contact us at (602) 883-3700 .
Generally, migraine begins as a dull ache and then develops into a constant throbbing and pulsating pain that you may feel at the temples, as well as the front or back of one or both sides of the head. The pain is usually accompanied by a combination of nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. Some people (about 15% of migraine sufferers) experience an aura before an attack. The cause of migraine is believed to be chemical reactions in the brain. Treatment for migraine may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, as well as self-help techniques such as relaxation training and biofeedback. Click here for more information about migraines.
About 15-20% of people with migraine get an “aura,” which is a manifestation of neurological symptoms that occurs before a migraine headache. You may see wavy or jagged lines, dots, or flashing lights; or you might experience tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes. The aura can include visual or auditory hallucinations and disruptions in smell (such as strange odors), taste, or touch. Other symptoms include numbness, a “pins and needles” sensation, or difficulty in recalling or speaking the correct word. These neurological events may last as long as sixty minutes and will fade as the headache begins. Click here for more information about auras.
Certain physical or environmental factors, such as foods, hormonal changes, weather, and stress, can lead to or “trigger” a migraine. However, it’s important to remember that triggers are different for everyone. That’s why, to help prevent migraine attacks, you need to figure out which triggers affect you and which ones don’t. Keeping a headache diary is an effective way to track triggers, and it will help you talk to your healthcare professional about your condition. Click here for more information about triggers.
Bright sunshine, hot, humid conditions, and drastic changes in barometric pressure may lead to, or “trigger,” a migraine attack in some migraineurs. However, studies have shown that weather does not act as a trigger for everyone who has migraine. Click here for more information.
Hormones initiate and regulate many of your body’s functions, keeping your body in balance within a constantly changing environment. When the levels of hormones in your body are unbalanced – during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause – it can lead to a migraine attack. In fact, about three quarters of all women with migraine report that their attacks are related to the menstrual cycle. Click here for more information
While the severity of a migraine attack often causes patients to fear they are having a stroke, the likelihood of a migraine attack causing a stroke is very remote. That is not to say that migraine sufferers cannot have a stroke associated with their migraines. In persons under age 40, the most common associated factor for stroke is migraine headache. However, over the course of a person’s normal life span, the occurrence of migraine headache may actually be associated with a reduced risk of dying from cerebrovascular disease due to stroke. Click here for more information.
Tension-type headaches occur randomly and are often the result of temporary stress, anxiety, fatigue, or anger. Symptoms include soreness in your temples, a tightening band-like sensation around your head (a “vice-like” ache), a pulling feeling, pressure sensations, and contracting head and neck muscles. The headache begins in your forehead, temples, or the back of your head and neck. Treatment for tension-type headache may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, as well as self-help techniques such as relaxation training and biofeedback. Click here for more information.
What is a cluster headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?
Cluster headache gets its name because the attacks come in groups. The pain arrives with little, if any, warning and is usually on one side of the head. A tearing or bloodshot eye and a runny nose on the side of the headache may also accompany the pain. Cluster headache, believed to be caused by chemical reactions in the brain, has been described as the most severe and intense of any headache type. Treatment for cluster headache includes prescription medication and oxygen. Click here for more information.
What is a sinus headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?
When a sinus becomes inflamed, usually as the result of an allergic reaction, a tumor, or an infection, the inflammation will cause a localized pain. If your headache is truly caused by a sinus blockage, such as an infection, you will probably have a fever. An x-ray will confirm a sinus blockage. Your physician’s treatment might include antibiotics for the infection, as well as antihistamines or decongestants. Click here for more information.
What is a rebound headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?
A pattern of taking acute headache medications too often (more than two days per week) or in excessive amounts (more than the label or a doctor advises) can lead to a condition known as “rebound headache.” With rebound headache, your medications not only stop relieving pain, they actually begin to cause headaches. Doctors treat rebound headache by tapering the medication that is being overused, sometimes by gradually substituting a different type of treatment or medication. Stopping may be a challenge, but regularly overusing a medication increases the potential for serious side effects. Consult a physician if you regularly use headache medications more than two days per week or more than the label advises. Click here for more information.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a self-help treatment that utilizes special equipment to monitor your body’s involuntary physical responses such as breathing, pulse, heart rate, temperature, muscle tension, and brain activity. Biofeedback helps you refine and perfect your relaxation exercises by learning to control the physical responses that are related to stress. An important benefit to learning biofeedback is that, once the technique has been mastered, you don’t need the equipment any more. Click here for more information.
Are headaches hereditary?
According to estimates, approximately 29.5 million people in the United States suffer from migraine. Four out of five (80 percent) of them report a family history of migraine, but scientists are not sure if this is genetic or a family predisposition. Despite the uncertainty, a child has a 50% chance of having migraine if one parent suffers and a 75% chance if both parents suffer.
Headache Care Forms
Please call 602-883-3700 for details regarding our patient forms if you wish to complete these items before your visit.
Dr. Christine Harter
A 1985 graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Harter practiced internal medicine for 15 years before moving to the Valley in 2000.
- MD, Johns Hopkins, 1985
- Board Certified, Internal Medicine
- Certified Headache Specialist
- Certified with the United Council of Neurologic Sub-Specialties
18700 N. 64th Dr., Suite 301, Glendale, AZ 85308