What Is a Migraine?
A migraine usually involves a headache that’s felt on one side of the head, including intense throbbing pain or pulsing. Migraines can be totally debilitating, lasting from four hours to three days on average. Patients with chronic migraines can suffer from them 15 days a month or more. But there are effective options for migraine pain relief.
Migraine Headache Symptoms
Throbbing pain is just one of the many signs of a migraine headache. Each patient can commonly experience a different combination of symptoms, including:
- Sensitivity to sounds, smells and light
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in vision
- Neurological symptoms like auras
The first step in achieving migraine pain relief is diagnosing the migraine itself. While there is no specific test to identify migraines, your doctor will give you tests to rule out any medical conditions that might trigger them. Eliminating these conditions can take care of the migraine problem. Some of the more common diagnostic tests for migraine-related conditions are MRI and blood tests. Your doctor can put together the right treatment plan only after a thorough evaluation.
Causes of Migraine Headaches
Problems with migraines are most often hereditary. About 80 percent of all migraine headache sufferers have a family member with a history of migraines. For those patients without a family history of migraines, many develop the problem after experiencing a serious head trauma or brain injury.
A migraine headache often starts with no warning. The cause may not be known, but there are many known triggers including:
- New medications
- Changes in the patient’s sleep cycle
- Foods such as aged cheese, alcohol, artificial sweeteners or preservatives
- Hormone changes in women during pregnancy or menopause
- Weather changes
Even constant mental stress or being put into an environment filled with bright lights and loud noises can bring on a series of migraine attacks.
Finding Migraine Pain Relief
The success of treatments for migraine headache relief depends foremost on the causes of the migraines, the symptoms and the type of migraine you experience. Treatment is based on taking care of the symptoms first, since they have such a severe effect on your ability to live normally, and then addressing the root causes.
For severe pain, triptans are considered the most effective medication. If you suffer from migraines more than twice a week, you may be prescribed preventive medication to stop the headaches before they start. If you have more than 15 migraines per month, Botox injections can be a successful treatment option for migraine pain relief.
Pharmacological treatment for migraines is just the start. Successful migraine pain relief combines medication with alternative forms of treatment such as massage therapy, biofeedback and occipital nerve blocks. If your migraine attacks include back and neck pain, physical therapy can be beneficial. If your migraine headache symptoms combine with depression, as is the case with many patients, psychological counseling is helpful. IV infusions are another option for breaking a severe migraine cycle.
At our clinic, we have many options and approaches available to successfully treat your migraines, allowing us to utilize an individualized plan with which you are comfortable. The vast majority of our patients are able to find some migraine pain relief through treatment. Your healthcare practitioner will begin by addressing the symptoms you experience followed by the possible causes of your condition, until we find a solution that works best for you.