How Is Pharmacological Therapy Used to Treat Headaches?
The first phase of treatment for most migraine or chronic headache patients is pharmacological therapy, which is medication designed to reduce or stop pain. Some medications are also used for preventive therapy. Our best migraine medicine plan for each patient depends on a number of factors, including other conditions or illnesses a patient might have. For example, if the patient is pregnant, has depression or has gastrointestinal issues, we would adjust her medication accordingly. Obtaining a good patient history is key, and it is the most important first step to finding the best migraine medicine for that particular patient’s needs.
The best and most effective treatment plans include medication to deal with acute headaches as well as preventive medicine. For most patients, preventive therapy isn’t an issue unless they suffer with headaches more often than once a week. This is a judgment call, though, and deciding on the best migraine medicine plan can involve many factors. If acute medications are working, further therapy might not be needed. On the other hand, if a patient has headaches so debilitating that he or she misses four or more days of work a month, migraine prevention medicine might be beneficial. The opinion of the patient as well as his/her medical history and other details will factor into this decision. Like with many medical situations, the best migraine medicine depends on the patient’s circumstances at the time.
The first step in treating migraines is dealing with the pain, and finding the best migraine medicines for each patient often involves trying different medications. For most migraines, the best headache medicine can be a combination of two medications. Headache specialists will begin by recommending analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter medications, for instant pain relief. These are the most familiar medications, and many patients have used them for a long time before ever seeing a healthcare professional about their migraines. Overuse of these medicines can lead to another problem known as medication overuse headache, and using a higher than recommended dose of most of these drugs can cause a different type of headache altogether. When prescribed under a doctor’s care, these medicines can be used in combination with triptans, as described below.
Triptans are medications created specifically to treat migraines, and they are the best migraine medicines for most patients. Some of the more common triptans are:
All of these medications can be found in various forms such as oral tablets, nasal sprays and injections. Nasal sprays are much faster acting than the tablets, but for the fastest relief, subcutaneous injections work best. Sumatriptan is the only one of the triptans that comes in an injectable form. Zolmitriptan and Sumatriptan are available in nasal spray versions.
About Prescription Migraine Medicine
Prescription migraine medicine has to be taken daily to prevent migraines from forming. Missing a dose can invite onset of a migraine. When taken correctly, the medication can reduce the severity of migraines, as well as the frequency and the length of time they last. It can take time for migraine medicines to work; your doctor will start you off with the lowest dose and adjust it accordingly, depending on your body’s reactions, to calibrate the best migraine medicine dose for you.
Your doctor may also prescribe other preventive medications for use with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and triptans to create the best migraine medicine combination. Some of the more common ones include:
- Blood pressure medications like calcium channel blockers and beta blockers
- Anticonvulsants – several types are available, but topiramate is the most common
- Antidepressantssuch as tricyclic and/or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin norepinephrine receptor blockers
- Other nonprescription supplements such as magnesium, CoQ10, vitamin B-2 and Butterbur
Get Your Best Migraine Medicine Treatment Plan at Adkins Headache Center
At Adkins Headache Center, we understand the debilitating effect that migraines and chronic headaches can have on your life. We believe in a well-rounded approach to treatment that includes medication to treat pain as well as preventive medicines. We understand your body’s potential reaction to the some of the medication we prescribe. We closely monitor your health and are ready to deal with any reactions that may arise. The monitoring also allows us to adjust medication according to the way your body is reacting to it, reducing prescriptions when stronger versions aren’t needed, and altering prescriptions when one isn’t working as planned. These adjustments will help us find the best migraine medicine for you.
At Adkins Headache Center, you’re a human being, not a patient number. Our treatment plans are always customized according to each person’s individual history, including his or her medical conditions, age, lifestyle factors, drug history and any known interactions with any other medication. We believe in a holistic approach to migraine treatment. We want to find the best migraine medicine for you and we will also prescribe non-medication therapies to achieve the best treatment results.