(WFSB) -- Millions of Americans suffer from headaches, and the painful problem also plagues many veterans.
It’s estimated more than 30 percent of those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan now deal with migraines.
However, there’s important work being done in Connecticut to combat the condition.
Dr. Jason Sico, the national director for the Veterans Health Administration Headache Center for Excellence, meets with his patients virtually nowadays.
“I’ve been doing telehealth for 10 years and it’s been ramped up in earnest during the pandemic,” he said.
The program he runs aims to better understand how veterans are suffering.
“Trying to get a sense of how many veterans have headaches, what type of headache disorders do they have, what kind of treatments are they getting, do they live in rural areas, urban areas,” Sico added.
They then put the data into action, to meet the needs that are out there.
“In order to improve something, you have to understand what the baseline is,” he said. “We know traumatic brain injury, the signature injury, can lead to headache. It’s become increasingly important for Congress, as well as the Veterans Health Administration, to understand how many veterans have headaches and how we can do our best to help them.”
In Connecticut alone, he said 8,500 veterans have chronic headaches.
In the last several years, Sico said there have been big advancements, and there are now about a dozen more treatment options available.
“A lot of those are not medications, and of those medications, most of them are not something people have to take once a day, twice a day,” Sico said.
Some include injections, or even cognitive therapy that’s been proven to help.
Sico said the pandemic has caused many more people to report problems with head pain, so the advice goes for everyone.
“If you feel something is not right, talk to someone, if the headaches or new or 20 or 30 years old and you were told there are no treatment options because there are. There’s a lot that have come out in the last couple years and more coming down the pike,” he added.
Sico said the VA in Connecticut is also working on clinical trials to build on progress and expand options so veterans get the care they deserve.