Migraine Treatments

WHAT IS TMS (TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION), AND CAN IT TREAT MIGRAINES?

@Neuralgroover

TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, is an alternative therapy for pain (including migraine headache) and some mental illnesses. It involves transmitting a magnetic pulse onto the scalp, which induces currents within the brain. This electric field activates neurons in areas of the brain that are underactive; as of now, TMS can reach depths of about 1.5 to 3 cm below the skull surface. There are many different types of TMS, but they all can target specific areas of the brain, depending on where the magnetic pulse is administered. First developed in 1985, TMS was originally, and continues to be, used for clinical trials. It is used to measure motor conduction times and assess neural excitability.

 

What are the types of TMS?

The two main categories of TMS are sTMS and rTMS. sTMS refers to single-pulse TMS. This means that only a single magnetic pulse is transmitted. With rTMS, or repeated-pulse TMS, a train of pulses is administered. Sometimes a pair of single pulses is administered, and this can be referred to as paired-pulse TMS or ppTMS.

 

Another common type of TMS is theta burst stimulation, or TBS. During theta burst stimulation, the magnetic pulse is delivered at a specific frequency that mimics brain waves. This type of TMS is sometimes preferred because it promotes neuroplasticity. It is also often referred to as Express TMS because administration takes only about 3 minutes, whereas typical 10-Hz rTMS methods can take over 30 minutes.

 

Typically, TMS is done in a clinical office and administered by a professional. This is necessary for most types of TMS, including rTMS and theta burst. There are private clinics like TMS & Brain Health that administer TMS in a safe and comfortable environment. However, personal sTMS devices are now available. These mobile neuromodulatory devices can be self-administered at home.

 

What does TMS treat?

TMS has been used in clinical settings to monitor brain activity for over 30 years and is an FDA-cleared treatment for many types of mental illnesses as well as pain management. It is most often used as an alternative therapy for Major Depressive Disorder and bipolar depression that is resistant to standard forms of treatment. Patients with depression who have tried various medications like SSRI’s are often eligible to have TMS therapy covered by health insurance. It is still recommended to resume psychotherapy or other social therapies during and after TMS treatment. TMS can also be effective in treating anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and smoking cessation for some patients.

 

There is also evidence that TMS can effectively treat migraines. sTMS has been shown to be an effective treatment for acute migraines with aura when administered at the onset of aura. It is also an FDA-cleared treatment for migraine without aura, recommended to be administered at the onset of a migraine attack. rTMS also shows promise as a preventative treatment for chronic migraine. Repeated administration of rTMS resulted in a decline in migraine frequency, duration, and intensity.

 

The first device which was FDA cleared for migraine treatment was an sTMS device, discussed further here. It was initially FDA cleared for the acute treatment of episodic migraine with aura in adults in December 2013. It then received FDA clearance for both acute and preventive treatment of migraine in adults in 2017. This clearance was then expanded to the acute and preventive treatment of migraine in children 12 years of age and older in February 2019. Prior models included the Spring TMS and sTMS mini. The newest model, SAVI, is currently the only FDA cleared device for both the acute and preventive treatment of migraine in adults and children 12 years of age or older. Since the device is used acutely and preventively, the FDA approved it for a maximum of 17 pulses per day.

 

The user holds the device against the back of the head, and presses a button to release a very short magnetic pulse at the onset of aura or a migraine attack with or without aura. The magnetic pulse delivers a fluctuating magnetic field which induces a mild electric current through the skull and onto the surface of the occipital cortex (visual cortex) of the back part of the brain. This modifies the electrical excitability and hyperactivity of the cortical neurons to block or prevent the onset of a migraine from evolving to a full-blown migraine. The device stops cortical spreading depression, which is suspected to be the basis of migraine aura in the occipital cortex. It is also suspected to interfere with thalamocortical pain pathways that are normally activated during a migraine.

 

The most common side effects were mild and brief light-headedness/dizziness, tingling over the back of the head where treatment is performed, brief tinnitus (ringing in ears), nausea, and muscle spasm. You should not use this device if you have a cardiac pacemaker, vagus stimulator (VNS) or other implanted neurostimulator, implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or any implanted medical device that stimulates the body or uses any signal from the body. It is also suggested that patients with implants affected by a magnetic field should not use this device. Examples of such implants include aneurysm clips or coils, cochlear implants, cerebral spinal fluid shunts, bullets or pellets lodged in the head or upper body, metal plates, screws, staples or sutures in skull, neck, shoulders, arms or hands, and facial tattoos with metallic ink. Dental implants, fillings or other dental appliances are okay to use the device.

 

Acute migraine treatment consists of 3 sequential pulses (early) at the onset of a migraine (aura or pain). Then wait 15 minutes. If needed, treat with an additional 3 pulses. Then wait another 15 minutes. If needed, treat with an additional 3 pulses. Studies reported that 39% of patients were pain free at 2 hours.

 

Migraine prevention treatment consists of 4 pulses twice daily. This is performed by giving 2 consecutive pulses, waiting 15 minutes, and then repeating 2 consecutive pulses. Studies reported that 46% of patients had a greater than 50% reduction in monthly headache days and averaged approximately 3 less migraine days per month.

 

The use of non-medication options for migraine such as TMS can help to avoid common side effects of standard abortive pills such as NSAIDs and triptans, and can help to avoid rebound headache (medication overuse headache).

 

What are the side effects of TMS?

TMS is FDA-cleared and it is a very safe treatment option for pain and mental illness. In general, the most commonly reported side effect is light headedness or dizziness directly after treatment that fades quickly. Most patients describe the actual TMS administration to be mildly uncomfortable, and report feeling a tapping sensation on the scalp. Additionally, TMS cannot be administered if you have any kind of metal implants or a high risk of seizure.

 

Occasionally, Virtual Headache Specialist will allow guest bloggers to write or contribute to an article on a migraine related topic. The bulk of this article was written by Ben Spielberg, M.S. with edits and contributions (especially the sTMS migraine treatment discussion) by myself. Ben Spielberg is the Founder and CEO of TMS & Brain Science, a brain health center dedicated to cutting-edge solutions for treatment-resistant depression and many other mental health needs. With his team of passionate mental health specialists, Ben has been a leader in bringing TMS, neurofeedback, and ketamine therapy to Southern California.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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Last updated on July 13th, 2021 at 07:16 am

SUMMER HEADACHES AND SUMMER MIGRAINES.

@Neuralgroover

The likelihood of a headache increases during the summer months. According to a recent study which surveyed ER visits for headaches, every 9°F rise in temperature increased a person’s short-term risk of a headache by about 7.5% before their emergency room visit. Heat, dehydration, weather changes and barometric pressure changes are the primary drivers of headaches during the summer months, but some lifestyle factors, such as the foods we eat during the summer, can also increase the risk of headaches.

Heat, Headaches, and the Weather

During the summer months, heat can be a contributor to both headaches and migraines. In certain areas of the country where barometric pressures can change suddenly during a storm, people frequently report headaches. This is a common and classic migraine trigger. Sometimes a headache may be caused by heat exhaustion, which has the following associated symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or tightness
  • Numbness in the face and neck
  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Fast and weak pulse
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Drenching sweat
  • Extreme thirst

For a summer headache that is not related to heat exhaustion, your symptoms may only include a throbbing or dull achy sensation in your head, fatigue, sensitivity to light, and dehydration. If you do have heat exhaustion, it is best to seek medical help because heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

 

Relief for Heat and Weather-Related Headaches

For people prone to headaches and migraines triggered by heat, there are some ways to mitigate them. It might be wise to limit outdoor times on hotter days. Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen can also help. If you need to exercise, try to stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes and plenty of water will also help you stay hydrated. If you already are suffering from a heat-related headache, certain essential oils, cold compresses, iced herbal teas (without caffeine), and NSAIDs can help reduce the intensity of the headache.

 

Exercise and Summer Headaches

Heat and exercise are often a combination of conditions for a headache, but if you choose to exercise, there are certain things that you can do to avoid getting a headache. Generally speaking, it is understood that when a person exercises, the blood vessels within their skull dilate. If you participate in strenuous activities, like rowing, running, weight lifting, or team sports (like baseball, softball, or volleyball), these can contribute to a headache.

Avoiding activities like these in high heat is advisable. However, another way to avoid headaches related to exercise is to develop a set of warm up exercises, which can help prevent headaches. Some good warmup exercises include stretches, followed by some light jogging and walking.

 

The Importance of Staying hydrated To Prevent Headaches

As a rule of thumb, people have generally learned that you should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. That is about two liters. However, during hot summer days when you are active, you might need to increase that to about 2-½ liters. When you are dehydrated, the brain can shrink and this causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing a headache. When you relieve your dehydration, the brain returns to a normal state, relieving the headache.

 

Pollution, Allergens, and Summer Headaches

During the summer months, there are also other factors, like pollution and allergens, that can lead to headaches. Various air pollutants tend to increase during the summer months due to more people traveling and there being vehicles on the road. Lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matters all increase during the summer months and can cause headaches. Headaches that are related to pollution are often intense, sometimes leading to the point of being disabling, because they are often migraine. Pollution irritates the lungs, eyes, and triggers what is sometimes a very intense headache.

Allergy headaches have unique symptoms. Sometimes a person may experience pain localized over the sinus area and some other facial pain. More intense headaches can be throbbing and one-sided and sometimes are accompanied by nausea, and these are more likely to represent migraine.

Foods and Headaches During the Summer

More people typically barbecue and picnic during the summer months. Certain “summer foods” can trigger headaches. For example, hot dogs can potentially trigger headaches because of nitrites. Nitrites are generally present in some foods in very small quantities, but sensitivity will vary depending upon the person to this chemical. Processed meats like salami and bacon also can contain varying levels of nitrites. In this situation, it is best to substitute processed meats for something like a salad. Even the condiments that you put on your food can trigger headaches. Instead of pickles, you might want to consider swapping them for fresh vegetables on your burger. Avoid aged cheeses and try fresh herbs instead of soy-based condiments. More detailed discussion of migraine triggers can be found here.

 

Sunburn and Headaches

Generally, when we get sunburn, we think nothing of it and it goes away within a few days. However, sunburn can be more severe in certain types of situations. When swimming, sunburn is often more intense if you don’t use sunscreen. Sunburn can happen relatively quickly, within just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure. Some of the symptoms that you can get with severe sunburn include:

  • Tenderness and blistering of the skin
  • Pain and tingling sensations in the burned area
  • Headaches, fevers and chills
  • Nausea, dizziness, and dehydration.

The type of headache that accompanies a severe sunburn can sometimes feel like exhaustion and will often cover the entire head. To relieve a sunburn headache, cool/cold treatments can often help alleviate the intensity, including cold compresses, a cold shower, and drinking water.

 

Taking Care of Headaches During the Summer

Headaches are more frequent during the late spring and summer months. By drinking plenty of water, staying hydrated, regulating our exposure to sunshine, paying attention to food triggers, and not overexerting ourselves, we can reduce the potential for frequent and intense headaches. However, even with taking these precautions, headaches and migraines will still periodically happen. Thus, it is important to have a good abortive headache treatment such as the gepants (Ubrelvy, Nurtec ODT), Ditans (Reyvow)triptans, or regular over the counter (OTC) pain medicines such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen if they work for you and if you can use them safely. If the headache frequency is high enough (generally more than 4 per month), a preventive headache or migraine treatment should be considered until your high frequency headache cycle subsides.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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Last updated on July 1st, 2021 at 10:15 am

ACUPUNCTURE, ACUPRESSURE, PRESSURE POINTS AND DAITH PIERCING FOR MIGRAINE, HEADACHE, AND PAIN.

@Neuralgroover

Acupuncture is an alternative medical therapy that involves thin needles being inserted into the body. Acupressure is a therapy, often used in conjunction with acupuncture, where the practitioner applies pressure to certain points of the body. These two therapies are used for a wide variety of different therapeutic purposes, but can be specifically used to address headaches and migraines with the advice of a headache specialist.

 

Acupuncture for Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Acupuncture is a technique that is derived from ancient Eastern/Chinese medicine. It consists of inserting thin solid needles into specific acupuncture points in order to maintain the flow and balance of Qi (pronounced “chee”) in the body. Qi is another term for life force or life energy. Balancing Qi is felt to activate the body’s natural healing abilities, and achieve homeostasis (natural state of balance in physiological and organ systems and functions). It is believed that acupuncture achieves homeostasis when Qi is able to flow smoothly and unobstructed through a system of channels called meridians. This normal flow of Qi and restoring homeostasis is felt to aid in the treatment of a variety of ailments. Acupuncture affects the limbic and para-limbic networks in the brain, stimulates the nervous system, and improves communication between nerves and influences neurotransmitter actions.

Acupuncture can be specifically beneficial for headaches, migraines, and pain. In fact, the World Health Organization has endorsed acupuncture for headaches, migraines, and pain since 1979. Some research has been done to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture for headaches and migraines, and in that research, it was found that those who participated in acupuncture for headaches and migraines reported a 50% reduction in frequency of their symptoms.

Sometimes, traditional medicine is not successful in easing headache and migraine pain in sufferers and they are eager to explore other methods of treatment, like acupuncture. This therapy was developed in ancient China. According to the practice, there are fourteen points along the body called meridians. If the energy at these points in the body is disturbed, various types of pain or illness can happen. Acupuncture works by piercing these areas of the body with a thin needle.

 

How Does Acupuncture Work For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain?

It is not well understood how acupuncture specifically eases headaches and migraine pain, but it is believed that the pathways of the brain that are responsible for turning pain off are activated. Generally speaking, acupuncture is very straightforward and simple. The acupuncturist will place needles at certain points in the patient’s back and neck, the areas that are believed to be responsible for slowing pain transmission. Sometimes, a head massage will also be given while the needles are placed. An acupuncture session generally takes about an hour and the patient will have a weekly session over a duration of two weeks.

 

What Does the Medical Community Say About Acupuncture For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain?

Over the years, various medical professionals have said mixed things about acupuncture. However, a recent study by the NIH supports acupuncture as a very viable treatment for headaches, migraines, and pain. The study concludes that:

  • Acupuncture should be a first-line option for the treatment of headache and migraines.
  • It is at least as effective as preventative medications that are often prescribed for headaches and migraines.
  • In comparison to some of the medications that are on the market, acupuncture potentially has longer lasting effects, is safe, affordable, and can potentially reduce drug intake with side effects.

 

There was another publication which analyzed 15 systematic reviews of the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in migraine treatment. This analysis concluded that acupuncture is more effective and safer than medication or sham (placebo) acupuncture in headache severity and frequency in various headache types including migraine and tension type headache.

 

Acupuncture can be safe and effective and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner on its employment and potential benefits. It should be considered as a complement and adjunct treatment to standard migraine treatments.

 

Acupressure for Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Acupressure is very similar to acupuncture; however, acupressure does not involve needles. For some people who suffer from headaches and migraines, pressure can be applied to specific points on the body to relieve pain. An acupressure practitioner will use their fingers, palms, and elbows, as well as specialized devices to apply pressure to certain points on the body.

Acupressure may help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with migraines and headaches; however, more research is needed. A recent 2017 study by the National Institute of Health indicated that acupressure, at the very least, had the potential to reduce nausea associated with chronic migraines.

 

The Pressure Points For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Since acupressure and acupuncture are very similar and are often used in conjunction, the points where needles and pressure are applied (the meridians) are often the same. Here are some of the points along the body where the practitioner will apply the needle or pressure.

Ear Pressure Points

Ear pressure points, in addition to helping with migraine and headache pain, have the potential to help relieve chronic pain. Some of the points used along the ear include:

  • Ear Gate: This is the point where your ear connects with your temple.
  • Ear Apex: This is the very top of your ear.
  • Daith: The daith is near your cartilage above the opening to your ear canal.

Very little research has been done about these pressure points, but some people have reported that stimulation of the daith may lead to a reduction in headache severity and frequency. The daith piercing is done on the innermost cartilage fold near the entry of the ear canal. From a first-hand perspective, I see an extensive amount of patients in our headache center who have gotten one or two daith piercings. From my personal observations, the vast majority report no benefit at all. I have seen a few that said it did help, although they usually report this benefit wears off after a few months when I see them back in the office. I have also seen some patients whose headaches got worse and/or developed ear and nerve pain from the piercing. This certainly doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to it, but it needs to be studied more objectively. It may require a precision piercing in exactly the right pressure point spot for it to help, but this is not clear. Pain patients in clinical trials have a notoriously high placebo responder rate as well. This could also be a factor of why some tend to improve briefly and then the effect wears off.

 

Hand and Foot Pressure Points

Various pressure points on the hands and feet can also potentially reduce headaches and migraines. There is a point between your thumb and index finger where, if pressure is applied, can potentially alleviate headache pain. On your feet, points between your first and second toe and fourth and fifth toe, if pressure is applied, can reduce anxiety, reduce migraines, and decrease pain in the jaw and face.

Upper Body Pressure Points

The upper body also has several different pressure points. For example, a point between your eyebrows can potentially reduce stress. Acupuncture and acupressure applied to the points where your nose reaches your eyebrows can reduce headache and migraine frequency. The point where your neck reaches the base of your skull has the potential to reduce migraines and fatigue. Lastly, your shoulder well has the potential to release pain, headaches, and a stiff neck.

 

Are Acupuncture and Acupressure Viable Treatments for Headaches, Migraines, and Pain?

The research for headaches and migraine relief is always ongoing. The World Health Organization has endorsed acupuncture since 1979 and acupressure is very closely related and used in conjunction with acupuncture. Generally speaking, acupressure and acupuncture is at least as effective as preventative medications and therapies for headaches and migraines and may potentially have longer lasting beneficial effects without the side effects of medication. As with any therapy, acupuncture and acupressure should be explored as a possible treatment after consultation with your primary care physician or headache specialist.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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Last updated on July 1st, 2021 at 10:17 am

YOGA AND MEDITATION FOR HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, AND PAIN.

@Neuralgroover

Yoga and meditation can help with fitness and mindfulness, but there are additional benefits. These activities can help you with migraines, headaches, and other types of pain. Yoga has the ability to help you:

  • Alleviate stress, which is a common source of headaches, migraines, and pain.
  • Sleep better, as sleep deprivation can cause or worsen headaches and migraines.
  • Support better posture, as poor posture is an agitator of migraines and headaches.
  • Reduce muscle tightness, as tension in your back, shoulders, and neck can be a contributor to migraines and headaches. Keep in mind that there is often an interconnection between neck and shoulder musculature and headaches. 70% of patients with migraine get neck pain and stiffness associated with their migraine attacks. Conversely, if there is significant tightness and spasm in these muscles, they can irritate the nerves in the back of the head (occipital nerves), and this can also contribute to headaches and migraines. So targeting these muscles to get them to relax can be very helpful.

 

There was a study published which looked at adding on yoga therapy in combination with standard migraine medical treatments. The study results concluded that yoga as an add-on therapy in migraine was superior to medical treatment alone. Therefore, it was suggested to integrate yoga as a cost-effective and safe intervention into the management of migraine. Other prospective randomized open label trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses have shown yoga to decrease headache frequency, headache pain intensity, and headache duration in both migraine and tension type headaches.

 

Tips for Starting Yoga To Improve Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

If you are thinking about starting yoga to improve your headaches, migraines, or pain, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Always speak with your doctor before beginning to see if it is a good fit for you.
  • Consider a beginner’s class if you are new to yoga.
  • Check with the instructor to tell them about your headaches, migraines, or pain. They can recommend good poses or even modify certain poses so that they do not contribute to agitating your headaches or migraines.
  • Avoiding certain types of poses, like inversion, can reduce the likelihood of causing a headache.

 

 

Yoga Poses That Your Instructor Might Recommend To Reduce Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

There are a few poses that many yoga instructors might recommend if you suffer from headaches, migraines, or pain. These include:

  • Child’s pose: This pose can reduce tension in your upper body.
  • Cat and cow pose: This pose increases circulation, as well as reduces tension in your shoulders and back.
  • Seated forward fold: This pose opens up your shoulders and stretches out your back, a great way to relieve the tension in these areas of your body that causes headaches.
  • Legs up the wall: This pose helps blood flow towards your brain, which can help alleviate an existing headache.
  • Savasana: This pose uses the ground below your body to provide throughout and can increase oxygen to your brain, alleviating an existing headache or migraine.

Not only are the poses that go along with migraines beneficial, but some of the other techniques that go along with yoga, like breathing can help with headaches and migraines. Alternate nostril breathing is a common way to calm the mind and relieve stress. Yoga also helps tames the anxiety center of the brain, which is another way to relieve stress.

 

Meditation for Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Meditation reduces stress and can possibly impact the severity of headaches and migraines. A recent study by the NIH was conducted that found several interesting results when meditation was used for headache and migraine sufferers:

  • The frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines could potentially decrease as a result of meditation.
  • People who practiced meditation had a decreased use of non-opioid medications over time.

The benefits of meditation for headaches and migraines include:

  • The ability to potentially lower stress levels, a key driver of headaches and migraines.
  • An improved pain tolerance with the onset of headaches and migraines.
  • A reduction in the frequency and intensity of headache, migraines, and other types of pain.
  • A better quality of life.

 

Meditation and migraine were studied in 92 patients and results were published. Over 30 days, the frequency of migraines decreased significantly. Medication usage was also significantly lower in the meditation group.

 

Different Types of Meditation Techniques To Try For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

There are several different types of meditation techniques that you can try that can potentially help with stress reduction. These different techniques can also take your thoughts off of your headache, migraine, or pain.

Mindfulness Meditation

This type of meditation has its origins in Buddhism and is one of the most popular meditation techniques to try. When practicing mindfulness meditation, you will focus on your thoughts, as well as sensations, thoughts, and feelings.

Visualization Meditation

This type of meditation involves visualizing positive scenes and images and focusing on them. Another type of thing to focus on with visualization meditation is thoughts and scenes of where your headache, migraine, or pain has subsided.

Progressive Relaxation

This type of meditation is common to help you relax before you sleep and involves reducing tension in the body and promoting an overall sense of relaxation. This technique also involves “scanning” your body to isolate areas of pain and tension. When focusing on the head, shoulders, and neck, this technique can be particularly effective in reducing the intensity of headaches and migraines.

Movement Meditation

This technique involves changing your surroundings. You can take a walk, practice gardening, or even exercise while being aware of sensations and feelings within your body. Movement meditation can help reduce stress, which may in turn, alleviate the onset of headaches, migraines, and other types of pain.

 

 

Additional Benefits of Meditation

Meditation indirectly reduces the onset and severity of headaches, migraines, and other types of pain. However, there are several additional health benefits, over time, that come along with meditation practices:

  • Meditation has the power to reduce blood pressure, which can be a driver of headaches and other chronic diseases, like diabetes. High blood pressure is also the leading cause of stroke.
  • Anxiety is a condition that can be potentially alleviated by meditation.
  • Meditation can also increase feelings of self-worth, which can help overcome depression.
  • Sleep can be aided by meditation and improved sleep can also help reduce the onset of headaches, migraines, and pain.

 

 

Reducing Tension, Stress, and Anxiety

Overall, meditation and yoga are an array of techniques that you can use to reduce stress, tension, and anxiety in your body. These are things that can contribute to headaches. Yoga may help increase blood flow in the body, which can also help reduce headaches, migraines, and pain.

Overall, it is best to consult your doctor when considering treatments for headaches, as yoga is an advanced technique that you should work with an instructor on.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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Last updated on July 13th, 2021 at 07:03 am

HOME AND NATURAL REMEDIES FOR HEADACHES, MIGRAINES, AND PAIN.

@Neuralgroover

Staying Hydrated and Eating Healthy

Not drinking enough water (dehydration) is a common cause of headaches. Some studies indicate that there is a strong correlation between poor hydration and headaches. According to Science Direct, there are several different causes of headaches that are linked to lack of hydration and food or food additives. These include:

  • Skipping meals
  • Alcohol intake
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Excess salt (sodium) intake

According to the NIH, immediately hydrating can potentially eliminate your headache in as early as 30 minutes, if the cause is dehydration. Avoiding alcohol, eating right, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a great way to keep headaches from happening.

Certain types of foods can be headache triggers and avoiding these foods can help prevent headaches. Migraine is particularly susceptible to various food and food additive headache triggers. For example, aged cheese can be a headache trigger. Pickled food products, prepared food (like potato chips), canned soups, and others are also possible headache triggers. Other foods that cause headaches can be found in this article.

Sleep is another way to alleviate headaches. For people who get less than six hours of sleep, they are more likely to have a headache. In a recent study, 85% of migraine sufferers chose sleep to relieve their headache while 75% reported that their headache forced them to get rest because of their headache.

Hot and Cold Compresses

For any type of headache that has radiating pain, you can place a cold compress on the area where the pain started. The cold temperature will help numb the pain, and this tends to be especially helpful for migraine. For tension headaches, studies have shown that a hot compress can work fairly well. If you have a tension headache, the hot compress can be placed on the neck or shoulders to release tension in your muscles.

 

Essential Oils For Headaches and Migraines

Essential oils are another type of remedy for headaches. These essential oils are made from the bark, flowers, leaves, stems, and roots of plants. Some of the more popular types of essential oils for alleviating headaches include peppermint essential oil, rosemary essential oil, chamomile essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and lavender essential oil. Some of these oils can be used in an aromatherapy format and others can be applied topically. Here are some of the benefits of these essential oils for headaches:

  • Peppermint essential oil: Peppermint essential oil can relax muscles, ease pain, and alleviate tension and migraine headaches. This essential oil is typically applied topically.
  • Rosemary essential oil: Rosemary essential oil can reduce insomnia and relax muscles, as well as help with headaches. This essential oil can be applied topically or used via a diffuser.
  • Chamomile essential oil: Chamomile essential oil is commonly used for reducing stress and tension. It is a great aid for reducing tension headaches.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil: Eucalyptus essential oil is great for clearing sinus headaches and can be highly effective when used with other essential oils, like peppermint.
  • Lavender essential oil: Lavender essential oils are great for reducing stress and helping with overall relaxation. Commonly used via aromatherapy, lavender essential oil is great for reducing migraine severity.

Teas Can Help Alleviate Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Herbal teas, without caffeine, can help alleviate the severity of headaches, migraines, and pain. These teas can help add water to the diet. Ginger, for example, is an herb for tea that works particularly well with alleviating migraines, and especially the nausea associated with migraines. Some studies indicate that ginger can alleviate headaches and migraines particularly quickly. Ginger can potentially help alleviate symptoms as soon as two hours after use. Other types of herbal teas include peppermint, chamomile, and lavender.

Vitamins and Minerals That Can Help With Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins B, E, and magnesium can help with headaches. Natural migraine preventive supplements including vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements are detailed further here. By adding these vitamins and minerals to your diet, you can help relieve headaches over time.

  • Vitamin B: Vitamins B6 and B12 are available as supplements and can play a role in general nerve and neurological health, although excess B6 can also cause neuropathy, so should not be used in excess. Vitamin B2 is the B vitamin which has good evidence for preventing migraine headaches.
  • Vitamin E: This vitamin may play a role in relieving headaches and migraines associated with the menstrual cycle.
  • Magnesium: Increasing the amount of magnesium in your diet can work particularly well if you experience migraine headaches, and has shown benefit in some patients with cluster headache and tension type headache.

Relaxation Techniques That Can Help Reduce the Severity of Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Different types of relaxation techniques, such as breathing can help alleviate headaches. These relaxation techniques work best when you are alone.

  • Breathing Techniques: Deep breathing, visualized breathing, and rhythmic breathing are all activities that one can do to reduce stress and cope with migraines or headaches.
  • Visualized Breathing: Visualized breathing involves imagining the air moving in and out of you and each breath gets rid of a little bit more tension.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves taking note of the different areas of your body that hurt and relaxing them gradually. Rotating your head slowly and removing tension from your neck and shoulder muscles can help alleviate any headache or migraine symptoms.
  • Meditation, Yoga, and Mental Imagery Relaxation: These are different techniques, but they all have one thing in common. They make you pause any activity that is causing you stress and focus on yourself. Mental imagery relaxation involves focusing on peaceful images in your mind. Yoga helps calm the mind but also strengthens some of the muscles and tendons that can contribute to stress.

Acupressure and Acupuncture For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain

Acupressure is a technique that involves applying pressure to certain parts of the body. Acupressure works particularly well for headaches if you apply pressure at the base of your skull/back of the neck area. Using your knuckle or fingertip, simply apply pressure gently for 15 to 30 seconds. This should provide some moderate relief for a headache. Acupuncture has also shown some benefit in headache disorders such as migraine and tension type headache.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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Last updated on April 30th, 2021 at 11:13 pm

MIGRAINE HEADACHES EXPLAINED.

@Neuralgroover

Migraines are a very intense type of headache that are often accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, numbness or tingling, speech disturbances (slurred speech, difficulty getting words out), weakness, vertigo, cognitive dysfunction or “cognitive fog”, among other things. Migraines tend to be more prevalent in women than in men, with a 3:1 ratio. A common risk factor for migraines often involves family history, but not for everyone.  People who suffer from migraines report intense feelings of pain, including a pulsating/throbbing sensation. This often occurs on 1 side of the head, but can also involve both sides. Exercise and activity during a migraine will often make it worse. Migraine is usually associated with nausea, and/or sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia)  Migraines often come in different phases, which are called prodrome, aura, the headache phase, and postodome, but not everyone gets all 4 phases:

  • The prodromal phase of a migraine often marks the beginning of a migraine attack and can happen over a period of a few hours ranging to a few days. Some of the symptoms include irritability and depression; food cravings; yawning and tiredness; and fatigue or muscle stiffness. Some patients report their prodrome as just a difficult to describe feeling that they recognize as an early warning sign of an impending migraine. Not every migraine attack includes the prodromal phase.
  • The aura phase of a migraine doesn’t necessarily always happen in every migraine attack, and only about 25% of patients with migraine get aura. Historically, those that get aura are called “classical migraine”, whereas “common migraine” refers to the more common variety of migraine which isn’t associated with aura. A large number of people who have migraines report that during the aura phase, they experience loss of sight, numbness, and other symptoms. Visual aura (loss of vision, jagged lines, flashing, colors, shapes, wavy lines, kaleidoscope, shimmering, expanding blind spot, etc.) are the most common aura. This is followed by numbness and tingling on 1 side (especially face and arm), and then dysphasia (trouble speaking; slurred speech, getting words out). There are also less common types of aura such as hemiplegic migraine aura (1-sided weakness), and brainstem aura (previously called “basilar migraine”; slurred speech, vertigo, tinnitus, double vision, hearing impairment, decreased level of consciousness, ataxia/imbalance). The aura phase should last between 5-60 minutes per ICHD3 criteria. Hemiplegic migraine can be associated with 1-sided weakness which can last up to 3 days. If the other types of aura last longer than 60 minutes, it is called prolonged or atypical aura, and usually warrants a brain CT or MRI, although it is not too uncommon to see. .
  • The headache phase of a migraine is often the longest and most intense period of a migraine. Symptoms include intensive throbbing, nausea, giddiness, irritability, stiffness, and soreness. According to ICHD3 criteria, an untreated or unsuccessfully treated migraine attack should last 4-72 hours. A headache lasting longer than 72 hours (3 days) is called status migrainosus. It is not uncommon for a refractory migraine to last days and sometimes weeks for some patients.
  • The postdrome phase is the drawing down of a migraine attack. It can last for up to 48 hours and some of the lingering symptoms remain from the other phases of a migraine attack. Patients often report feeling wiped out, fatigued, and sore as if they were “hit by a bus”.

 

According to the American Migraine Foundation, more than 36 million people suffer from migraines (although now estimated to be closer to 39 million), but only one out of three people actually talk to their doctors about their pain.

Statistics About Migraines and Their Prevalence

According to several different sources, migraines are one of the most common types of illness in the world. More specifically, it is ranked as the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world. It is estimated that migraine affects about 39 million Americans, and 1 billion worldwide. For example, 1 in 4 households in the United States have an individual that suffers from migraine attacks. Migraines impact 18-20% of women (1 in 5) and 6% of men (1 in 16) in the United States and they are also fairly common in children.

Migraines are also a common cause for an emergency room visit. In fact, there are more than 1.2 million emergency room visits each year in the United States for someone who is suffering from an acute migraine attack. Patients with migraine have a greater than 1.5 fold increase in office visits, and a greater than 2 fold increase in ER visits and hospital admissions. Migraines can also diminish the quality of life for the people who suffer from them. More than 4 million adults suffer from chronic migraine pain, which is an individual who is experiencing more than 15 days of migraine pain each month. Approximately 3% of patients will transform from episodic migraine to chronic migraine each year. Overall, it is estimated that 3-5% of patients in the United States have chronic migraine. Also, 20% of people who suffer from chronic migraines are disabled. Disability due to migraine peaks between the ages of 15-49 years old, which are peak employment years. Thus, migraine now accounts for the 2nd leading cause of years lived with disability following low back pain! Migraine also accounts for 50% of all neurologic disability. All of this puts a very high price tag on migraine, with an estimated 36 billion dollars spent in migraine costs in the United States each year.

 

Migraines in Children

Migraines are commonly undiagnosed in children. They are more commonplace in adolescent children, but 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines. Half of all migraine sufferers have their first migraine attack before they turn twelve and if a child has one parent who suffers from migraines, they have a 50% chance of developing migraines during their lifetime. Also, boys under the age of twelve tend to have migraines more often than girls, but that trend reverses in adolescence, typically with onset of menarche (which also highlights the hormonal influence on migraine).

 

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of reasons that people suffer from migraines, but the true cause of them is not fully understood. Genetics and environmental factors play a role. In fact, around ⅔ of migraine cases run in families. Migraines also tend to happen in people who are prone to stress, bipolar disorder, and depression. There are also some common triggers for migraines, including:

  • Drinks, such as alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
  • Work stress or stress at home.
  • Bright lights or strong smells.
  • Drastic changes in one’s sleep cycle.
  • Bouts of overexertion.
  • Changes in the weather or other barometric pressure changes
  • Certain foods and food additives such as MSG, nitrates, aspartame, and other substances such as artificial sweeteners.

 

Migraine Theories:

1) Vascular theory; “vascular headache” (outdated):

a) Lack of blood flow (ischemia) caused by vasoconstriction (narrowing) of the intracranial arteries (arteries inside the brain) caused migraine aura.

b) The vasoconstriction was then followed by rebound vasodilation (dilation) of the arteries. This dilation activated pain receptors on the arteries, and this was the cause of the pulsating headache.

c) This theory has since been disproven and outdated. Studies have also shown that the physical pulsations of the arteries did not correlate to the pulsating sensations of the headache pain.

2) Neurovascular theory (current):

a) Migraine is a neurogenic process with secondary changes in cerebral perfusion (related to neuronal dysfunction and hypometabolism during an attack). In other words, migraine is an electrical neurological event in the brain, not an event triggered by blood flow changes. This electrical event influences changes in brain metabolism such as hypometabolism and hypermetabolism. When the neurons are in a hypometabolism state, they have less oxygen and glucose requirement since they are not as active, and thus there is a lack of blood flow (not due to vasoconstriction of the brain arteries). This can be followed by hypermetabolism in which there is an increase in oxygen and glucose requirements and thus, increase in blood flow (so not necessarily simply rebound vasodilation).

 

b) Migraine aura is a good illustration of this phenomenon. Migraine aura is caused by an electrical wave spreading across the cortex of the brain moving at about 3 mm per minute (not by vasoconstriction as per the older vascular theory). At the front of this spreading electrical wave it causes hypermetabolism and an increase in blood flow. This hypermetabolism causes the “positive” migraine aura features (colors, flashing lights, kaleidoscope, shapes, zig-zags, tingling sensory changes, etc.). Following this electrical wave there is “neuronal depression” and hypometabolism, associated with a decrease in blood flow. This hypometabolism causes the “negative” migraine aura features (loss of vision, black spots, numbness, etc.). Depending on where this wave spreads, you may get different aura symptoms; visual aura as it spreads across the occipital (visual) cortex, sensory/numbness/tingling as it spreads across the parietal (sensory) cortex, dysphasia (trouble speaking, slurred speech) as it spreads across the frontotemporal (speech) cortex, one sided weakness in hemiplegic migraine as it spreads across the frontal (motor) cortex, brainstem symptoms such as vertigo, tinnitus, double vision, hearing loss, imbalance, decreased level of consciousness, slurred speech (previously called basilar migraine, now called migraine with brainstem aura) as it spreads across the brainstem.

 

c) The electrical event of migraine not only causes the changes in metabolism as described above, but the trigeminal nerves are also activated. Think of migraine as an electrical switch that gets turned on in the brainstem. It then turns on and activates the trigeminal nerves. The trigeminal nerves innervate all of the arteries in the brain and through the meninges surrounding the brain. When activated, the trigeminal nerves release a variety of inflammatory proteins (such as CGRP) and neuropeptides. The result of this is 3-fold:

1st, these inflammatory peptides cause neurogenic inflammation around the brain. Think of it like a sterile (non-infectious) meningitis. So, when you’re having a migraine, exercise and activity, moving around, bouncing in a car, etc. often worsen the pain.

2nd, it causes cerebral vasodilation in the brain and meninges. The dilation itself does not cause the pain, but rather it triggers the trigeminal nerves which innervate the arteries, and this sends signals back to the brain that something is going on, which in turn causes more release of inflammatory proteins and causes the migraine to worsen. This is the basis of why it is called the neurovascular theory of migraine.

3rd, it enhances and exaggerates the transmission of pain from the trigeminal nerves, into the brainstem, and into the cortex of the brain where the pain is recognized.

 

At baseline, a patient with migraine who is not having a headache always has a state of neuronal hyperexcitability in the cerebral cortex, especially in the occipital cortex (which is why the majority of aura symptoms tend to be visual aura). So, they have a much lower threshold to a migraine being activated and triggered as compared to someone without migraine. In other words, the neurological system in a patient with migraine can be thought of as always being in a hyperactive, hypersensitive, overdrive state with the “volume turned way up” compared to a person without migraine. Thus, I tell my patients the goal of preventive treatment is to “turn the volume down” and increase the threshold of migraine being triggered so easily.

 

What Are Some Common Treatments for Migraines?

There are two categories of treatment for any type of headache, including migraines. Migraines can be treated through abortive or preventive means. Abortive treatment for any type of headache includes medications such as aspirin, which treats the headache while it’s happening. Preventative treatments are intended to keep a headache or migraine from happening so frequently. Here are some of the different types of treatments for migraines.

 

Abortive Treatment for Migraines

The goal of migraine abortive treatments is to stop individual migraine attacks at onset so the migraine does not reach full severity, ends quickly, and your function is restored and maintained rather than having to go lay down and miss the whole day in bed.  Over-the-counter pain relievers for migraines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are fairly commonplace. Some more aggressive abortive treatments include prescription medications like triptans (such as Maxalt) that block pain pathways within the brain. Some people may also receive anti-nausea drugs and opioid prescriptions to deal with more intense migraine symptoms. The migraine specific abortive/acute (as needed) treatments include triptansgepants (Ubrelvy, Nurtec), ditans (Reyvow) or neuromodulatory devices.

Preventative Treatments for Migraines

Medications that lower blood pressure, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, CGRP monoclonal antibodies, and even botox are some of the common preventative treatments for migraines. The classification of the preventive medicine typically has nothing to do with its purpose when it is used for migraine. For example, there are specific anti-blood pressure medicines that are good for migraine prevention. However, they do not work for migraine because of blood pressure changes, but rather they affect the electrical pathways of migraine. The same scenario goes for the antidepressant/anti-anxiety and anti-seizure categories. The medicines selected within each of these preventive categories are very specific and based on clinical trials and evidence. In other words, not all medicines within a specific medication class (such as all antidepressants) have evidence for migraine prevention, but rather very specific ones within that class. Medications that are designed to lower blood pressure can sometimes prevent migraines with aura and without aura. Certain types of antidepressants can help prevent migraines, but have some undesirable side effects in some individuals. Anti-seizure drugs, such as Topamax, can reduce the frequency of migraines in some individuals. The preventive migraine treatments should be used until the migraine and headache frequency is significantly improved consistently for several months. As mentioned above, this can be done with a variety of medications which may also include the CGRP monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments (Aimovig, Ajovy, Emgality, Vyepti), Botox, natural supplements, herbals and vitamins, or neuromodulatory devices.

Alternative Treatments for Migraines

Some other types of treatment for migraines include acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, supplements, essential oils, yoga, meditation, and other techniques designed to enhance relaxation. For some individuals, exercise can decrease the frequency of migraines. In fact, some studies have shown that a routine exercise program can be just as effective as some of the prescription preventive medications used for migraine. Neuromodulatory devices that are FDA cleared for migraine prevention are also available and include sTMS (SAVI, SpringTMS, sTMS mini),  eTNS (CEFALY), and nVNS (GAMMACORE), all of which are discussed in much greater detail here. There are also nutraceuticals and supplements which have good evidence for migraine prevention.

 

Finding Help For Migraines

Migraines remain a poorly understood medical condition, but there are treatments available. Only 4% of people suffering from migraines work with a headache specialist or a pain specialist. It is estimated that preventative treatment could benefit around 25% of people who suffer from severe migraines.

If you suspect that your headaches are migraines, you should see your doctor. Furthermore, any type of headache warrants at least one visit with your doctor to make sure there are no concerns by medical history or examination for any other worrisome causes of your headaches. They may refer you to a neurologist or other type of headache specialist. Oftentimes, a wide variety of tests may be given, including CT scans and MRIs, to see what is contributing to the cause of the migraine. The good news is that migraines can be successfully managed for the majority of patients, and that many people live with them thanks to the treatments that they receive.

 

IF YOU HAVE HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN AND ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS ON ANYTHING RELATED TO IT, A HEADACHE SPECIALIST IS HERE TO HELP, FOR FREE!

FIRST, LET’S DECIDE WHERE TO START:

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, HOT TOPICS, AND TREATMENT TIPS, VISIT OUR FREE BLOG OF HOT TOPICS AND HEADACHE TIPS HERE. THIS IS WHERE I WRITE AND CONDENSE A BROAD VARIETY OF COMMON AND COMPLEX  MIGRAINE AND HEADACHE RELATED TOPICS INTO THE IMPORTANT FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS YOU NEED TO KNOW, ALONG WITH PROVIDING FIRST HAND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A HEADACHE SPECIALIST.

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE TYPES OF HEADACHES OR FACIAL PAINS BASED ON YOUR SYMPTOMS, USE THE FREE HEADACHE AND FACIAL PAIN SYMPTOM CHECKER TOOL DEVELOPED BY A HEADACHE SPECIALIST NEUROLOGIST HERE!

 

IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING HEADACHE, MIGRAINE, OR FACIAL PAIN DIAGNOSIS AND ARE LOOKING FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND SELF-RESEARCH ON YOUR DIAGNOSIS, VISIT OUR FREE EDUCATION CENTER HERE.

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