Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

New headache book makes it an even ten

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

There were no new books for years, and now there’s two in 2019 — my guide to frozen shoulder joined the inventory this summer, and now a new guide to “tension” headaches has been added. Read the free intro. Be charmed and informed. Fork over $20 for the rest of it. Vote with your bucks for good science-inspired journalism.

Cover artwork for the headache book.

I can’t quite believe I went with an emoji for the cover art for my new headache book. But stock photography for ‘headache’ is bloody awful.

So why the scare quotes on “tension”? Which made it onto the cover, even! Because, like most painful conditions, the name makes it seem much simpler than it really is, and different too. Many so-called tension headaches probably have nothing to do with tension at all. About a kajillion other headache causes are just crammed under the odd umbrella concept of “tension” — making it one of the gnarliest differential diagnosis challenges in all of medicine.

And while some headaches probably are related to “tension”… what is that exactly? No one really has any idea how a tension headache works. Seriously.

So of course I loved writing about it. Practically every time I sat down to work on it for the last two years, I learned something completely new to me. Good times.

As with the frozen shoulder book this summer, all existing e-boxed set customers, even if they only gave me $50 back in 2008, will automagically be granted access to the headache book. That investment is starting to pay off for more than 2,400 set customers.

Ten books! Wow! I wasn’t sure I’d get this far, and now that I am here it feels like a milestone I’ll be satisfied with for a while. My ultimate goal has always been a dozen topics. More seems impossible for a one-man band to maintain, while fewer seems like too small a slice of the pain science pie. There are just so many topics! There are a bunch of good candidates for books 11 and 12, and some of those topics are already well-represented on PainScience.com — fibromyalgia and Achilles tendinitis come to mind — but none that are close to being worth $20 yet. There’s no way in hell I can manage another pair of new books in 2020. I wouldn’t even attempt one. Instead, 2020 will devoted to upgrading and polishing all of the books, plus dozens of other articles of course — there’s enough of that to keep me busy for the rest of my life.

End of post marker

Last post: The power of the NYT, the meaning of “pain is an opinion,” and much ado about nothing

Next post: Back pain: coping versus treating