When a Migraine Turns into Chronic Migraine

Migraines are deeply painful and debilitating. Seeking treatment is usually much more complicated than taking over-the-counter medication. While an episodic migraine usually lasts for a few hours, and sometimes disappears for a few months at a time, a chronic migraine can linger for days or even weeks at a time.

Symptoms

Unlike other types of migraine, symptoms of chronic migraine develop over 50 percent of the time. Specifically, this headache occurs more than 15 days per month for at least three months. On these days, the migraine lasts for a minimum of four hours. The symptoms are similar to those of an episodic migraine except that individuals do not develop auras.

The condition also involves at least two of the following symptoms and characteristics:

  • The migraine causes moderate to severe pain.
  • The migraine affects one side of the head.
  • A throbbing, pulsating sensation can be felt in the affected side.
  • The start of the migraine is triggered by routine physical activity.
  • Symptoms of chronic migraine worsen with routine physical activity.

Causes

Unfortunately, migraines remain a bit of a mystery for doctors and researchers. Genetics could possibly be a factor. If a member of your close family suffers from migraine headaches, then you might be more at risk for developing migraine. Other possible causes involve chemical imbalances and vascular irregularities.

In some cases, individuals may have increasing headache frequency, which can become daily. A high frequency of episodic migraine, increased life stressors, stress in general, depression, snoring and obesity are some of the factors that have been shown to increase risk for the progression into chronic migraine.

Chronic Migraine Remedies

Properly addressing your condition depends on your lifestyle, your specific symptoms and the severity of those symptoms. To this day, Botox for chronic migraine is widely used and the only treatment for the condition that has been studied.

The initial treatment of chronic migraine should eliminate factors that aggravate the occurrence of headaches. Often, simple lifestyle changes can help: for instance, some individuals suffering from this type of headache can greatly benefit from physical and recreational therapy. Getting adequate, good quality sleep has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of chronic migraines or reduce their symptoms.

If obesity is an issue, then a treatment plan may involve dietary changes paired with a good exercise regimen. Dietary changes should be incorporated when patients report being sensitive to certain types of foods – usually caffeine, red wine, dairy products and even spices.

Studies show that acupuncture can be used for the relief and prevention of chronic migraine, just like in the treatment of episodic migraines. Acupuncture is performed on lower body parts to avoid the dilation of blood vessels in the head, which can worsen a patient’s symptoms.

If stress and/or anxiety are pinpointed as contributing factors to how often you experience migraines, then you may be a candidate for biofeedback. Biofeedback will teach you how to listen to your body and incorporate relaxation techniques to lower physical signs of stress. Psychological intervention may also prove to be useful. Massage therapy can minimize stress and focus on trigger points on the body that can help relieve the pain and muscular tension caused by chronic migraine.

Pharmacological therapy is widely used for treating recurring migraines. Medicine for chronic migraines includes simple analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, triptans and preventive medication such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. IV infusions may also be performed when dealing with acute cases.

Chronic Migraine