The Positive Side of Medicine

‘My Entire Scalp was on Fire’: A Doctor Repeatedly Insisted She Had a Tension Headache. Something More Serious Was Going On.

‘My Entire Scalp was on Fire’: A doctor repeatedly insisted she had a tension headache. Something more serious was going on.

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‘My Entire Scalp was on Fire’: A doctor repeatedly insisted she had a tension headache. Something more serious was going on.

The Medical Mystery Of The Burning Scalp Most people enjoy reading and watching television programs about medical mysteries. However, for Galen Warden, her world turned upside down after a stressful week at work. She ran a nice, hot bathtub full of water to help ease the tension and knots from her body. She immersed herself from head to toe. Nothing could have prepared her for what came next. When she came out of the water, it felt as if her head was on fire. She was in agony, and she described the sensation felt like acid being poured on her head. Could stress cause these kinds of issues?

Doctors Are Sure She is Stressed Out

Rushed to the emergency room, Warden was worried. The doctors brushed off the sensations as tension headaches and told her that she needed to reduce her stress. Doctors needed more to go on since her scans were clear. She sought help from a specialist and urged them to look deeper to find something more than just tension. However, once again, her condition was attributed to stress. Trying to stop the pain, Warden began taking three over-the-counter pain relievers.

She went from doctor to doctor trying to get answers. Her internist finally recommended that she see a neurologist. He too diagnosed her with tension headache. Her explanation of the symptoms seemed to fall on deaf ears. It wasn’t the inside of her head that was hurting; it was the outside scalp area. It felt like it was on fire. She was urged to take a few days off to reduce stress levels, and she needed to add Xanax to her regimen. The benzodiazepine didn’t help. In fact, the only thing that helped was taking massive amounts of those over-the-counter pain killers.

Desperate, she decided to get firm with the doctors. She didn’t know how much longer her liver would hold up with all these pain killers. At her insistence, the doctor gave Warden prednisone. They hoped that the drug would reduce the inflammation and ease the headaches. The medication worked, but as soon as it was time to taper and cease the drug, the pain returned with a vengeance. It was so severe she couldn’t even brush her hair. There was no way she could take this medication for more than seven days, so they gave her an anti-inflammatory that was nonsteroidal based. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.

Taking Matters into Her Hands

The scalp burning wasn’t the only problem she faced. Soon, Warden was dealing with low-grade fevers and extreme fatigue. Also, her body became very tender and ached all over. Yet, she was repetitively told it was nothing more than a tension headache. They tried a migraine medication, which also didn’t help. On a flight home from a business trip, a new symptom knocked her out of her seat. She began feeling sharp pains in her temples that made her hit the floor. Again, the doctors assured her it was a variation of symptoms from the tension headaches.


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