Dr. Atkins has been treating sinus headaches since 1991. Over the years, he's developed a very successful program for diagnosing and treating sinus headaches. The key to the treatment is considering all the possible causes, determining whether the sinuses are actually the cause, and determining the best way to manage the sinus problems. To be clear, there's no one test that can diagnose sinus headaches. It takes patience, listening to the patient, asking the right questions, and considering all possible causes of facial pain, pressure, and headache.
"Sinus headaches" mean a lot of things to different people. Most patients refer to any facial pain or pressure as a sinus headache. In their truest definition, sinus headaches are headaches or facial pain/pressure brought on by changes in barometric pressure. There are many causes of facial pressure and pain that are not sinus related. This is not to say that the sinuses don't hurt during these other conditions. It's just that the pain is not coming from the sinuses.
These other causes include migraines, and cervical neck problems, particularly in patients who have had neck trauma such as whiplash or who work at a computer constantly with poor posture that's leading to neck problems. Some of the nerves in the neck wrap around the head and can trigger pain in the sinuses. Temporomandibular Disorder, also known as TMJ, is also a common cause of sinus headaches.
Treatment for Sinus Headaches
The medical treatment for sinus headaches is to eliminate or control whatever is causing inflammation in the sinuses, such as allergies and recurrent infections. For example, narrowed or blocked sinus passages can harbor bacteria, which can cause chronic sinus infections. In such cases, if more conservative treatment such as medication does not help, surgery is an option.
Surgical treatment to open the sinuses has greatly improved over the last few years because of balloon sinuplasty (BSP). By dilating blocked sinus passages when they are contributing to sinus pain and pressure, you can achieve a significant reduction in sinus headaches. Some patients need slightly more aggressive surgery, such as BSP and a septoplasty, at the same time.