FAQ’s on Migraines
Migraines are far more severe than a normal headache, and can be extremely painful and debilitating for the sufferer. Approximately 24% (18% men, 6% women) of the population suffer from migraines, with the majority of sufferers never seeking treating for their pain despite its interference in their daily life.
What are the causes of Migraines?
The exact causes remain unknown. Both genetics and alterations in the brain have been related to migraines, with the risk of development increasing if one or both parents have them. Migraines occur when nerve cells constrict the blood vessels in the head, releasing inflammatory substances that result in pain.
What are the symptoms of Migraines?
The primary symptom of a migraine is throbbing pain in the head, with pain behind the eyes, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise acting as secondary symptoms. Less common symptoms include difficult speaking and a tingling in the limbs or neck.
How are Migraines diagnosed?
Migraines can typically be identified with verbal examination of the patient and by ruling out other potential causes of pain via X-ray, MRI, and CT scan. Migraines can be identified with neuroimaging if used during an attack (The role of neuroimaging in the diagnosis of headache disorders, 2013).
What are the treatment options for Migraines?
Medication: Over the counter pain relievers can be very effective for patients. It is also possible however that they will increase the severity of the migraine, or may cause more frequent headaches if taken too often. Patients are strongly encouraged to contact one of our physicians if they are currently taking over the counter medications for pain more than three times a week.
- Nausea Medication: Patients with nausea as a side effect of their migraine can be prescribed medication by our physician to provide relief.
- Abortive Medications: There are unique drugs designed specifically to stop a migraine from occurring, provided they are taken at the first sign of migraine. While not guaranteed to prevent every headache, the medications can be effective in stopping the headache from occurring, and in stopping the pain of the headache. Abortive medications are also sometimes able to provide relief for the secondary symptoms of migraines, such as the nausea and light-sensitivity.
- Preventive Medications: Patients with frequent headaches that interfere with their normal activities may be prescribed preventive medications. These are to be taken daily, and are effective in preventing the occurrence of headaches.
Nerve Blocks: A block administered to the supraorbital and infraorbital nerves using a small amount of medication was able to reduce the number of migraine attacks in a 6 month period significantly. Nearly every patient experienced only approximately 20% of the amount or previous attacks following treatment (Supraorbital and infraorbital nerve blockade in migraine patients, 2013).
Peripheral Neuromodulation: Used as a treatment for chronic migraine sufferers, neurosurgical procedures have historically had issues. Occipital nerve stimulation with peripheral neuromodulation is quickly emerging as a reliable and effective tool in providing pain relief for chronic migraines. Approximately 80% of open-trial patients experienced pain relief greater than 50% as a response to various neuromodulation techniques (Peripheral neuromodulation for treatment of chronic migraine headache, 2014).
Set-point Acupuncture: By using a clinical defined set of acupuncture points, both the frequency and intensity of migraines were able to be reduced with acupuncture therapy. The effects lasted over 12 weeks for many of the participants studied (Standardized set-point acupuncture for migraines, 2013).