Make Pain a Thing of the Past – Idiopathic Intracranial Hypotension – Physician Partners of America

Tag Archive for: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypotension

Idiopathic intracranial hypotension, sometimes known as pseudotumor cerebri, is a condition that causes pressure inside a person’s head even though there is no brain tumor or other discernible reason for the pressure.

Though idiopathic intracranial hypotension is a rare condition, with fewer than 200,000 diagnoses in the U.S. each year, the people who do have it experience symptoms similar to a brain tumor, which can make life more difficult.

For example, idiopathic intracranial hypotension could cause painful headaches or problems with vision, including temporary blindness. These symptoms can cause a disruption in your life, making it difficult to drive, work or enjoy your usual activities.

The word “idiopathic” indicated that the cause of intracranial hypotension is not known. However, there are treatments that can help.

Symptoms of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypotension

As mentioned, idiopathic intracranial hypotension has symptoms that are similar to those you see in someone with a brain tumor. The pressure inside a person’s head increases with idiopathic intracranial hypotension. However, there is no tumor in place to cause these symptoms.

The symptoms may include blurry vision or double vision. Some people may experience temporary loss of sight. There may be periods of dizziness, nausea or episodes of vomiting.

You may also experience hearing a ringing in the ears, sometimes corresponding to your heartbeat. Some people may have a hard time concentrating or a stiff feeling in the neck.

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms in people with intracranial hypotension. The headache is usually behind the eyes. These headaches may be severe, especially when standing upright and are often are not as bad when the person is lying down.

Some people describe the pain as throbbing, others do not. The pressure can feel like a weight pressing down on the head or a feeling like something is pulling from the skull down through your neck.

Idiopathic intracranial hypotension is most commonly found in obese women, particularly those who are old enough to have children. Weight loss may help to relieve the symptoms of idiopathic intracranial hypotension.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypotension

If you experience the symptoms of idiopathic intracranial hypotension, go to the doctor and talk through your symptoms. You will likely get lab tests done and possibly imaging to confirm that there is no tumor present in your brain and the condition is, in fact, idiopathic intracranial hypotension.

Once you have been diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypotension, your doctor will determine the best potential course of treatment. Medication is usually the preferred treatment, when possible.

Diuretics, medicine that makes you produce more urine to get rid of excess water and salt in your body, are typically the first option for treating idiopathic intracranial hypotension. Furosemide and acetazolamide are among the diuretics that you may be prescribed. The medicine helps you produce less spinal fluid and relieve your symptoms.

If medication does not help, you may need a surgical procedure to help relieve the pressure in your skull. Talk to your doctor to see if surgery is needed.

For many people suffering from chronic pain, the prospect of finding real and lasting relief can be a complete life-changer. Throughout his years of practicing pain management, Dr. Gari has had an immeasurable impact on people’s quality of life.

We often get brief notes of appreciation from patients. Few offer as much detail about their life with chronic pain as this patient. He has asked to remain anonymous, but he granted us permission to share his message and experience here on our website.


Though I’m a relatively new patient of Dr. Gari’s I do like his approach to pain management. A lot of doctors are simply there to be paid and write prescriptions; Dr. Gari actually wants to solve the problem, and to make sure that it doesn’t come back.

He isn’t afraid to try aggressive therapies that, while safe for the patient, avoid the risk of addiction or surgery for surgery’s sake. I would complain that it’s a time-consuming process; just in the next two weeks I’ve got four appointments with him, two of those being surgical procedures, but comparing that to the amount of time spent complaining about pain, the loss of ability to focus and the trouble that comes with chronic pain, it really isn’t much.

Wouldn’t you rather trade eight hours of your month for the stress of medication management, finding the right doctor, balancing the limitations in your life? I’m relatively young for a client of Dr. Gari’s and I’m not sure if it’s sports related or if it’s simply bad luck, but he’s been nothing but professional with me.

The first time I tried to “solve” my back pain problem I was referred to a doctor who simply started with narcotics. After a month or so of taking these, that doctor wanted to introduce the epidural injection procedures with a $1,200 co-pay (cash only, of course). If I wasn’t willing to pay for these procedures out-of-pocket and out-of-network, he simply wouldn’t write me any more prescriptions.

I was somewhat taken hostage by a new-found addiction to over-prescribed medication that was increased frequently to match my tolerance. Eventually, it got to the point where I simply wasn’t willing to continue down that path, but I, unfortunately, turned to heavy drinking to deal with my ever-increasing back pain.

I’ve met a few doctors as it’s important to find someone you trust. It’s almost like a therapist in this way; you need someone who’s going to believe you when you say you can’t enjoy your life anymore.

This can be difficult when you’re young(er); I’m 34 and doctors often brush me off before they’ve even bothered to look at my MRIs. Again, it’s like mental illness – you can’t see it, it doesn’t show up on a test and it’s impossible to measure in any quantitative way. P

Personally, my two favorite things in the world were running and scuba diving; with a herniated disc, as you can imagine, there are restrictions on participation for either with back pain. Dealing with pain by avoiding doctors and simply drinking it away makes you too stupid and too fat to enjoy either and you find yourself depressed, eating more, drinking more, weighing more.

Dr. Gari gives you another option – get rid of the problem that’s driving you to such measures. That’s worth more than gold. I want my life back, Dr. Gari can give it to me. If these epidurals don’t work, I’ve been asked if I’d consider medication. Normally, I wouldn’t; under Dr. Gari’s supervision, I would.

He’s meticulous, careful to the extreme, and knows what options there are. I’ve tried physical therapy on its own, medication on its own, epidurals on their own – but my treatment is being tailored to my life and lifestyle. With any luck, this time next year I’ll have lost another fifty pounds and I’ll be watching orca hunt off the west coast of Costa Rica from a private charter.

Chronic pain can take your life away. You’re willing to do anything to make it stop. Dr. Gari knows how to do this properly and how to do this safely. He’ll have saved my life.

Drinking? Done with it.

Depression from the seemingly endless pain to which there’s no solution? Gone.

Psychiatric medicine that puts you in a haze so you don’t know what’s going on? No thank you.

Spending days in bed curled into a ball screaming into a pillow? Not anymore.

Considering suicide just to make it go away?

Poor job performance because you can’t think about anything but the feeling that you’re on fire from the waist down all day and night?

Not on Gari’s watch.

I have faith this time around, and I can only hope it will be rewarded. I think it will.