Migraines are an extremely common health problem, but that does not mean that the condition is well-understood. It also does not mean that there are plenty of good migraine treatments. In fact, the 39 million Americans who suffer from migraines are often left with big medical bills and few results. Have you found yourself in this situation? We are going to look at some of the biggest myths surrounding migraine treatments and migraines in general in order to help you find something that works.
Myth 1: Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Relievers Are Migraine Treatments
Over-the-counter pain medicines are meant to treat headaches, inflammation, or general pain depending on the product you purchase. However, these products are not designed specifically for migraines. That having been said, you may sometimes find that taking ibuprofen or some other form of OTC pain reliever helps ease the headache that accompanies a migraine. Just remember that taking these OTC medications too often can actually result in rebound headaches and other health problems.
Myth 2: There Are No Medications Designed as Migraine Treatments
There is a class of medications called triptans that have been specifically designed to combat severe migraine headaches that do not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers. Iterations of this medication include sumatriptan, rizatriptan, naratriptan, and so on. These medications do not cure or prevent migraines. They are considered acute migraine treatment. In other words, you take it when an attack has started in order to lessen the severity or resolve the episode faster.
Myth 3: Medication Works Equally for Everyone
This is far from true. Take triptans as an example. Researchers have found that these medications have the best results for patients who do not experience skin sensitivities during an attack. Since sensory sensitivities, including skin sensitivities, are among the most common migraine symptoms, the effectiveness of this form of migraine treatment is limited. Also, you shouldn’t take triptans if you have a heart problem, are pregnant, or are under 18; so not all migraine patients even have this option available.
Myth 4: There Are No Treatments to Prevent Migraines
There are currently two approved preventative migraine treatments. However, both are injections and pose certain risks. For example, one of the approved treatments is Botox. This is a toxin that needs to be injected into either the head or the neck every three months. It is not a cure for migraines but has been able to reduce the frequency of occurrence for some people. The other option is Aimovig. This is also an injectable, and in one study it was able to reduce the number of migraines by 3-4 days per month for people with episodic migraines and 6-7 days per month for those with chronic migraines. However, it is important to note that the placebo group in these studies also had a 2- to 4-day reduction in migraine occurrence. So many patients have decided that the expense, risks, and need for frequent injections was not worth the limited results.
Myth 5: Everything My Doctor Prescribes for My Migraines Is a Migraine Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe medications for your migraines that are being used in an off-label manner. In other words, these medications have been used with some limited success for migraine patients even though they were not designed for this purpose. This increases the likelihood of unexpected side effects and decreases the likelihood of successful treatment. For example, anticonvulsants (seizure medications) are sometimes prescribed to migraine patients. In addition, the medications you are prescribed may be for associated conditions that you have. For example, you may be prescribed antihypertensives if you have high blood pressure or antidepressants if you are experiencing depression along with your migraines.
Myth 6: There Is No Self-Care for Migraines
Self-care is not a migraine treatment, but there are some lifestyle changes you can make to try and reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. For example, you can keep a migraine journal to determine your triggers and avoid these. You may also want to try an exclusion diet to learn if you have any food allergies or sensitives. Avoiding these foods may help. Certain essential oils and various stress management techniques may be able to help you lower stress hormone levels, and this can reduce the number of attacks that you experience. A good schedule for eating and sleeping is also important since missing meals or sleep can be migraine triggers.
Myth 7: There Are No Natural Therapies That Can Help Migraines
There are no natural therapies that have been FDA approved for migraines. However, this doesn’t mean there are no natural ways to get help with your migraines. Some patients have found a measure of relief from things like acupuncture or acupressure, herbal supplements, regular exercise, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. In particular, dozens of migraineurs in case studies have responded well to upper cervical specific chiropractic.
This should come as no surprise since about 75% of migraineurs have neck pain as a symptom. If the atlas (C1) is misaligned, it can affect blood flow, brainstem function, and cerebrospinal fluid drainage. All of these can be factors when it comes to migraines. Therefore, if you are suffering from migraines and struggling to find relief, it makes sense to contact an upper cervical chiropractor to see if this may be the right solution for you.
Upper cervical adjustments are safe and gentle. There is no popping or twisting of the neck. Finding a practitioner in your area may be your first step on the path to fewer migraines or even being completely migraine-free. Schedule a consultation to learn if this is the right way to find natural help for your migraines.