Endless Headaches Often Misdiagnosed As Migraines

By Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Kate Merrill Kate Merrill
Kate Merrill is an Emmy award winning journalist for WBZ-TV News. She...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Sometimes when you have a headache, it seems like it lasts forever. Rachel Frishberg literally lives with that type of pain every day.

“My headache is specifically in the back left of my head,” she explained. The pain developed two years ago and always seems to be present.

“I can go a couple of days with it being at a low severity and a couple days of it being at a high severity. And I have know control or sense of what triggers it,” she added.

This is not a migraine. Frishberg suffers from “New Daily Persistent Headache.” It’s a chronic condition which can be difficult to diagnose.

Dr. Bryan Grosberg said, “It’s a headache that starts on one particular day and just continues going.”

Frank Ferrante also suffers from these types of headaches. “It’s actually a dull ache that radiates on both sides of the head.”

Frank’s pain started five years ago as he built a tree house with his son.

Many things, from computer eye strain to red wine, can cause headaches. With so many catalysts, it is easy to understand why this condition can be so hard to diagnose.

“Very often people undergo a lot of unnecessary testing because physicians may not even be aware of the diagnosis,” said Dr. Grosberg.

Ferrante’s headache is being managed with Verapamil, a blood pressure medication.

“I think I am one of the lucky people that something mitigates it. It’s a drain but I am still a happy guy,” said Ferrante.

Rachel hasn’t had the same luck. She’s tried 15 medications and alternative medications, including Botox injections. There’s been no relief yet.

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