Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 18-June-2004, Vol 117 No 1196
Migraine and other headaches
William Young and Stephen Silberstein. Published by Demos Medical Publishing. ISBN 1-932603-03-4. Contains 208 pages. Price US$19.95
This book is part of a series of ‘Quality of Life’ guides commissioned by the American Academy of Neurology to answer ‘basic and important questions faced by patients and their families’. It succeeds in providing a comprehensive review of headache syndromes that is eminently readable both by patients and their doctors. The largest portion of the book is devoted to the understanding and management of migraine but there are also comprehensive sections devoted to atypical headache syndromes and the more serious and secondary causes of headache.
The authors, who are highly regarded headache specialists, begin by outlining the enormous cost headaches pose to society. It is sobering to learn that, in the United States, headache accounts for 4% (10 million) of all visits to doctors, and is estimated to cause a loss of productivity totalling 13 billion dollars a year. Several patient testimonies attest to the social and personal costs.
The chapter outlining the history of headache is fascinating, and all will be relieved to learn that ancient treatments such as trepanation (drilling a hole in the skull) have largely been superseded. The authors also devote several chapters to modern day treatments. These provide an excellent review of not only conventional treatments but also alternative therapies.
The book contains some excellent information for patients and doctors alike. My only criticism is that for a book whose target audience is patients and their families, it is (at times) a little over inclusive, and some of the information appears more directed toward a medical audience.
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