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Heads UP – Episode 7: Low Pressure Headache

By: Lindsay Weitzel, PhD

Could your chronic migraines or chronic headaches actually be low pressure headaches? Low pressure headaches are the topic of this week’s episode of Heads UP: the Weekly Podcast of the National Headache Foundation. Low pressure (sometimes called low volume) headaches are often misdiagnosed as chronic migraine. Low pressure headaches are treatable once a diagnosis is made. So, what causes these headaches, and what are some indications that you may be experiencing them?

Low pressure headaches are caused by low cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume. The associated pain usually begins in the back of your head. These headaches are positional. This means they improve when you lie down and become more severe when you move to a sitting or standing position. Low pressure headaches are often caused by a CSF leak. This can occur after certain procedures like spinal tap, spinal or epidural anesthesia, placement of a stimulator, or spinal cord surgery. People with certain connective tissue disorders like Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome are also at risk for CSF leaks and low pressure headaches.

Low pressure headaches are a treatable condition. The most common treatment is a blood patch. This is when blood from the patient’s arm is injected into the area around the spinal cord. The goal of this treatment is to close the leak using clotting factors in the person’s own blood.

Watch Episode 7 of Heads UP and see if you think you need to chat with your doctor about low pressure/low volume headaches.



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