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Are you a seeking treatment for migraine headaches?


Most of us have had a headache at one point in our lives. For some of us, it happens once every so often and is just an annoyance. Others will have migraines that keep them out of work for days at a time. While doctors still don’t fully understand what causes most headaches, we can help identify the kind of headache you may be having and how to treat it. 


A migraine is the second most common type of headache, with tension headache being the most common. A migraine is a headache that causes moderate to severe pain. This pain is often on one side of the head, and can be located behind the eyes, along the temples, or at the back of the neck. Patients will feel a pounding or throbbing sensation with a migraine headache. Before the pain kicks in, some patients may have changes in their vision. This change is called an aura, and can have effects such as streaking lines, blurring, or fog. People with migraines will also have increased sensitivity to light, sounds, and certain odors; all of which can make their pain worse. While having a migraine, patients may also become nauseous and even vomit. 

All of these symptoms can add up for a pretty miserable experience, and inevitably cause a patient to call out of work or impede them from accomplishing their daily activities. When patients suffer from migraine headaches for at least eight days out of a month, for three straight months, they become a chronic problem.


The exact way a patient develops a migraine is not completely clear, but we have started to discover the way a migraine develops. Certain triggers can throw off the brain’s pain regulation. This disruption causes a release of many substances that trigger a sensation of pain that spreads throughout the brain. Spread of these substances from the back of the brain may first come to the vision centers, causing the aura, or change in vision. Increased spreading to the rest of the brain may explain the pain that comes after the vision changes.


In patients with migraines, avoiding headache triggers is a major part of managing their attacks. Once you identify your triggers, you can work on reducing them and having fewer migraines. Many patients have found it helpful to keep a diary of what triggers set off each migraine attack. Below is a list of the four most common triggers. 

  • Stress (a trigger for almost 70% of people with migraines)
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Hormones (migraines are far more common in women)
  • Caffeine and alcohol

The good news for patients who suffer from migraines is that we have a growing list of medications that can help. If a patient is having less than ten migraines per month, we focus on prescribing medications to stop headaches as they occur. If a patient is having migraines more than ten days per month, then our treatment approach has two parts. The first plan of action is to provide medications to stop the bad headaches. The second piece is to give other medications aimed at reducing the number of headaches as well as the pain level associated with each headache. For patients who still have severe migraines after using medications, we can even do Botox injections around the head and neck. These injections work by weakening muscles that may be pulling against the head and worsening the pain.


Are you a seeking treatment for migraine headaches?





Reviewed by: Neurologist Dr. Sommer Ebdlahad