How Do Migraine and Headache Medications Work?

migraine, neck pain, and headache

Experiencing migraines in the middle of a busy workday can be quite a taxing experience. It gets worse when a migraine, neck pain, and headache happens all at once. Naturally, you’ll reach for a bottle of your go-to NSAIDs or prescription pain medication. You take one pill and wait for the magic to happen. A few hours later, you’re back on your feet and have less painful symptoms. The cycle repeats every time you experience a severe bout of headache, migraine, and neck pain. 

Have you ever wondered how migraine and headache medications work in the first place? How do they help you cope with the disabling pain? More importantly, is there an effective natural option you can use to deal with your symptoms? 


A Closer Look at Migraines 

Experiencing regular migraine attacks is a common problem in today’s population. If you have frequent attacks, you’re among the 39 million migraineurs in the country

Typically, migraineurs experience various symptoms within 72 hours, including neck pain and headache, lethargy, nausea, and visual disturbances. Others note additional symptoms like:  

  • Vomiting
  • Sensory sensitivity 
  • Brain fog
  • Lack of appetite or sudden food cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Digestive problems (diarrhea or constipation)

There may be instances when you can tell when an episode might happen. You can try to look for signs such as visual auras (seeing flashing lights, blind lights, or faint lights).

It will also help if you keep track of your primary migraine triggers. Some examples of which include:

  • Eating preserved or cured items
  • Sudden weather or temperature fluctuations
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages
  • Consuming food items with excessive additives like MSGs
  • Missed sleep or lack of restorative sleep
  • Experiencing hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause


Managing Migraines with Medications

Most people who experience migraine attacks cope by taking OTC pain relievers. Such medications for migraines can either serve as an option for acute care or preventive care. Essentially, medicines used for acute care stops or relieves migraine symptoms. Some examples of these include painkillers, ergotamines and triptans. 

On the one hand, preventive care medications such as beta-blockers avert an attack. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of medication used for migraine, neck pain and headache relief. 


When combined with caffeine, ergotamines can help curb the effects of a migraine attack. It helps by reducing the dilation or expansion of your blood vessels. Effectively, this lessens the severity of your headaches.  


Painkillers like NSAIDs are proven helpful for people who need quick relief from migraine symptoms like neck pain and headache. These help you by blocking the effects of enzymes that activate your pain or inflammation receptors. Some usual painkillers used for migraine relief include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Diclofenac
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ketorolac
  • Naproxen
  • Tylenol

migraine, neck pain, and headache


When the usual OTC painkillers don’t work, doctors sometimes recommend using triptans. These are fast-acting migraine medications prescribed for severe or recurring episodes. They work by blocking pain and activating the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that reduces inflammation and induces constriction of the blood vessels. 


Some physicians recommend taking beta-blockers like nadolol, atenolol, and metoprolol for migraine relief. Essentially, this type of medication helps alleviate migraine symptoms by relaxing your blood vessel walls. By doing so, you can regulate the blood flow to your brain and prevent a debilitating attack. 


Tips on Seeking Migraine Relief 

Undoubtedly, migraine medications can provide you with quick relief from your symptoms. They may come in extra handy, especially when you have a ton of things to do. However, we do recommend following your physician’s advice on how and when to use such medications. 

You might also find it helpful to seek alternative remedies for migraine, neck pain, and headache. Natural relief options like massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and exercising also work wonders for recurring migraine attacks. 

It’s also beneficial to try doing minor lifestyle changes like:

  • Avoiding migraine triggers
  • Maintaining a healthy sleep hygiene
  • Keeping yourself well-hydrated
  • Addressing magnesium deficiencies
  • Staying away from food that you are sensitive to
  • Retreating in a relaxed and dimly lit place when a migraine episode starts 

On top of all that, you can also try upper cervical care. It is a popular option among migraineurs who wish to use natural and holistic healing techniques. 


Migraine Attacks and Your Neck Health

There’s a reason why most people who experience migraines report neck pain as one of their leading symptoms. Aside from holding your head up, the neck performs another crucial function – encasing your brainstem. 

When something goes wrong with the alignment of the bones due to an accident, lack of good posture, or neck trauma, your brainstem suffers the impact. The bones irritate the brainstem, causing it to misfire and communicate the wrong information to your brain.

It can also affect other brainstem functions such as regulating sleeping patterns, digestion, and blood circulation. Consequently, this chain of events triggers the onset of various migraine symptoms.

By getting your neck bone checked and adjusted, you can potentially address the problems enumerated above. It also helps your body heal on its own, reducing the need to use painkillers, triptans, or other types of migraine medications to experience lasting relief. 

Are you interested in the benefits you can get from upper cervical chiropractic care? Do you want to get long-lasting relief from migraines? Find an upper cervical chiropractor office near you and take control of your migraines naturally and sustainably.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.