Latest Information ~ Spa News

Helping you Successfully Manage your Headache & Migraine A patient Guide

Neurology, Pain Management | July 2, 2022

This book provides ‘GP-level’ of knowledge about the diagnosis and management of headache and migraine, in simple, understandable language.

A combination of my own experiences with pain and a desire to help all patients who feel they have tried all available treatment options and found themselves at the end of the road led to the creation of this book.

In 2019, I went through my own health battle after I had a major surgery and experienced a severe level of pain some of my patients were suffering. Once you feel it yourself, you understand that even though you have tried all the logical treatments and interventions, the pain can still be there.

During a period of limited contact with my patients, I felt the need to help and support them and writing this book, is my way of doing so, including people those I will never meet. Through the book I try to enable sufferers to self-diagnose and successfully self-manage their headache.

There are over 150 different types of headache included in the International Classifications of Headache Disorders, if you treat a migraine as if it was a tension headache the treatment will not work. The book highlights the difference between the types of headache, helping patients self-diagnose their condition. In addition, it showcases pharmaceutical remedies and non-pharmacological methods supported by a holistic approach that can help treat and prevent headaches.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I feel this is more important than ever, face to face appointments have been kept to a minimum and consequently it limits what physicians can offer. Combine this with the added headache triggers that have come with the pandemic, such as stress and anxiety, the need for a book that allows chronic sufferers to combat their own symptoms becomes even clearer.

This is book is first of its kind and an ‘easy-to-digest’ style was a key consideration for me. Being mindful that technical expertise does not always come hand in hand with simple communication, I turned to my daughter for assistance. A student of bio-medical science and expert in graphics and digital communication, she created illustrations for the book enabling me to demonstrate in simple terms the headache itself or how the treatment works. Not being a headache expert made her the ideal person to write a glossary chapter for the book and her help has been invaluable in making sure the book explains intricate and complex concepts in laymen’s terms.

The first section of the book focuses on how patients can better understand which specific type of headache or migraine they are dealing with, if they have a primary or secondary type of headache, if there is any reason for concern and further investigation (e.g., brain imaging) and when to seek the help of their GP or headache expert.

The second section provides information on what treatments options are available to a patient in dealing with their specific type of headache. This involves not only pharmacological methods, but also non-pharmacological methods and even a holistic approach that is often not explored or even considered in the NHS, but it is easily available to every patient.

My experience as a headache and migraine expert has shown that up to 70% of patients would improve significantly by changing just their lifestyle, the way they eat, live, and even by adopting other more holistic methods of combating chronic pain. Interestingly in our society, where everyone is looking for “a quick fix”, it is not usually considered at the start of the problem by most. When we get a headache or migraine, we take painkillers and expect it to always miraculously stop the pain. This may work in some cases. Unfortunately, in patients with a chronic headache or migraine, analgesia as a quick-fix solution does not work and can actually make the problem worse by putting many of you into a ‘vicious circle’ of treating the headache you have today but getting a rebound headache tomorrow from the painkillers you have taken. Without realising it, taking painkillers increasingly frequently can make the situation even worse.


Studying at the 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, gave me an alternative perspective to the NHS, enabling me to consider conditions through both the evidence-based and holistic lenses. This includes preventative health but also natural and herbal remedies that have been used for centuries. I have seen first-hand the positive impact they can have on some headaches, migraine and other pain conditions in physiotherapy and rehabilitation centres in historical spa towns throughout Europe. There is a long tradition of a convergence between evidence-based medicine and preventative health care in the Czech Republic, which is a major emerging trend worldwide.

In addition to helping to manage existing headache and migraine, the book provides insights on how making proactive life changes can help to prevent them happening in the future. The biggest thing is that there is not a ‘one-treatment-fits all’ approach. It’s a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, living a balanced lifestyle and pacing yourself on a day-to-day basis. Stress is such a big factor in headache and migraine, it’s so important for people to be able to manage life, take a break when they need to, get some fresh air, and not always work late into the evenings. As I always say “you need to take the time to look after yourself”.

I’m a consultant neurologist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, an honorary senior clinical lecturer at UCLan and a nationally recognised expert in the headache and migraine field. ‘Helping You Successfully Manage Your Headache and Migraine – A Patient’s Guide’ is available globally from most major book retailers. For more information head to: cover