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Chenal Family Clinic doctor debunks three biggest myths on chronic headaches

CHI St. Vincent has some new information to share that deals with perhaps the world's oldest ailment: The headache.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — CHI St. Vincent has some new information to share that deals with perhaps the world's oldest ailment: The headache.

The ancient Greeks weren't the only ones with mythology. People who suffer from chronic headaches have their own misguided beliefs.

“I think the three biggest myths number one are that vision problems cause headaches,” Dr. Joe Elser said, with the Chenal Family Clinic. “Every patient I’ve ever seen the last 34 years goes to see the eye doctor before they come to see me thinking vision problems and they don't. The second thing is that allergies cause headaches. Headaches are not an allergic disease. The third thing is, is that there are foods that cause headaches and I think part of the issue behind triggers for headaches is most of it is not based in science it's based in anecdotal.”

Dr. Elser has heard plenty of anecdotes. He began working with headaches in children at Arkansas Children's Hospital in 1988. Now he works at the Chenal Family Clinic.

When I moved to St. Vincent’s three and a half years ago, I brought the headache clinic with me,” Dr. Elser said.

Five months ago Dr. Elser broadened his practice to include adults.

“I have always been encouraged to see adults with headaches, because there is just not enough adult headache providers out there,” he said.

Kids or adults, he tells them this about success.

“So it's a combination of lots of things and I tell both my kids and adults there is no magic pill.” He said. “It's we take appropriate medication and we eat right. We sleep well. We hydrate. We exercise and we work on our stress. It's a combination of good health habits and the right medication.”

His success rate is pretty good.

“I would say 90 percent of the patients that we have seen over the past 34 years attain some control with what we do,” he said.

The kind of control he has maintained his entire professional life: Dr. Elser is a chronic headache sufferer. It's why he's so dedicated to making people feel better. As one patient told him recently he gave her life back.

Headache cycles occurring over two or three times a week that get in the way of your life, act on it.

“I use the old saying that one of my psychologists that it's probably been around, pain is pain, suffering is optional, so if there are people out there that want to suffer more power to em but you don't have to suffer from headaches,” Dr. Elser said.