What is your role in migraine prevention as the migraine sufferer? Who is the expert? Our Doctor, our specialist, our natural therapist?
You are the expert my fellow migraine sufferer, you know your body best. It is your role to be the conductor of your own symphony.
But when it comes to pain and preventing an attack, depend on your doctor for a solid pain management plan including medication. Listen to the others, gather your information, and then become your own advocate.
For years I thought it was my doctor’s duty to help me live a pain free life.
But now I see that I must play the primary role and be an informed – savvy - advocate for my own health and well being.
With all the lifestyle choices: increased awareness around food triggers, exercise, meditations, relaxation techniques, CBT (behavioral modifications) re-training our thoughts and all the new and improved migraine medications available, ...
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cites preventative measures for migraine in a study called the
“Current options for the prevention and treatment of migraine.”
The results were:
1. lifestyle changes
2. avoiding migraine triggers
3. maintaining a regular sleep routine
4. maintaining regular eating patterns
5. maintaining regular work habits and
6. finding the correct drug therapy
The study also found that preventative medications used to reduce the frequency of migraine tended to be less effective than medications for treating acute migraine attacks.
The family of Triptan drugs were found most effective and generally better tolerated and were considered the “drugs of choice for the acute treatment of moderate to severe migraine”.
Medications commonly associated with treatment of other conditions like depression, high blood pressure or seizures, have also been found useful as prophylactics in preventing migraines.
The most common ones are: Amitriptyline (Endep), Pizotifen (Sandomigran), Propranolol (Inderal), Sodium Valproate (Epilim) and Topiramate (Topamax, or Epiramax).
1. Keep a detailed Migraine Diary – calendar and medication records that will assist you in future pain management strategies. Please click on the links to print out the forms you can use to help you with this.
2. Tell your Doctor your goals for pain management. They might differ from what s/he can actually provide. Some physicians aim for a 50% reduction in rate of recurrence, severity and length of time the attacks last. And your expectation might be a ‘cure’.
Develop with your Doctor a written plan for treating your attacks – see the migraine pain medications treatment plan page for an effective pain management strategy outline.
3. Make sure your information is from a reliable source. Be cautious of advice from friends, health practitioners, or talk show hosts who might mistakenly think migraines are just bad headaches.
4. Develop a lifestyle treatment plan - see my article for doing a new treatment plan here.
5. Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - please click here to print the worksheet I created from various sources - to use when you are anxious or upset. Calming down your mind and irrational thoughts really can make a difference.
If you want my advice, here are the best two e-books I have ever read that cover absolutely everything about managing migraines and learning effective prevention tools.
Mindfulness Over Migraines is packed with ideas to make your migraines more manageable. More importantly Cynthia Perkins covers how and when to take action and why it is so important. She has found a technique that eliminates her migraines in 15–30 minutes.
She tells us what is essential to know, along with the underlying science and lots of other facts that we need to know about our migraine condition.
It was an eye opener.
The other reading essential to preventing your attacks is The Ultimate Migraine Relief e-book. It has 6 books in all, plus a surprise bonus.
Briefly, it has: a recipe book with delicious and healthy recipes for us migraine sufferers; a migraine journal with what to write and how to choose the right doctor, and a migraine tracker. The main migraine relief guide is in an easy printer friendly format. Click on the link for more details.
There are so many other treatments available now that are commonly recommended for migraine prevention and pain relief that it can be a bit of a puzzle to find what works.
We are so lucky, we have so much to choose from now. Think of our mothers who had to eat raw onion sandwiches, or even farther back to times when they drilled holes in the skull to relieve the pain!
Thank goodness we have choices. Some of the mainstream treatments used now are: acupuncture, relaxation exercises, chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage, biofeedback and (CBT) Cognitive Behavior Therapy for behavioral modifications.
There are also similar treatments for migraine prevention with childhood migraines, adolescents and teenagers.
Other treatments freely available in the US and the UK that are very difficult to find here in Australia are:
> Occipital Nerve Blocks
> Botox Injections (for migraine headaches only)
> Electrical Stimulation
> I-V Therapy
The best results for effective pain relief are with a combination of these alternative treatments together with the right medications for you – both preventive and abortive.
So there you have it. The best way for migraine prevention is to combine traditional medicine and some alternative therapies to find the mix that works best for you.
I use lots of things to help prevent more attacks. I learned to meditate, I use glare screen on my computer, I walk often and get fresh air and move. And I use guided meditation MP3's to relax.
I make sure I find time every day to relax. These devices help too:
Which device works best for you, the Cefaly or the gammaCore? Share your migraine prevention strategies that are working for you with other readers.
1. Adelman J.U. and Adelman R.D. (2001) Current options for the prevention and treatment of migraine. Clinical Therapeutics 23(6) pp. 772-88, cited on U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health (NIH). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11440281 Accessed June 20, 2016.
2. The American Migraine Foundation (2016) Essentials of Migraine Management. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/essentials-of-migraine-management-5-abortive-treatment Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
What Is Your Role In Migraine Prevention?