According to the US Pain Foundation, there is an extensive list of options when it comes to seeking care for pain causing conditions such as migraines. We’re going to take a look at some of the traditional treatment options for migraines. Then we will take a closer look at why many migraineurs are choosing natural opportunities to find relief.
Traditional Migraine Treatment Options
You have a lot of choices when it comes to migraine care. The main thing you will probably notice about these treatments, however, is that they are more likely to target symptoms than the underlying issue causing migraines. Combine this with the fact that many medications are for off-label use, then it becomes clear that we are using the word treatment loosely.
The following medication types may help a migraine patient:
- Analgesic – Pain relievers to cover up the primary symptom of a migraine – pain.
- Antipsychotic – While this is an off-label use medication, they can reduce nausea and vomiting, common migraine symptoms.
- Nerve Pain Medication – These drugs block pain signals going to the brain. A migraine may occur, but the patient might not feel it. While they can “prevent” migraines, they may just be another way of covering them up.
- Neurotoxin – This risky drug category is popular to fight wrinkles, but Botox has also had some success in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks for some patients.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) – NSAIDs like ibuprofen can counteract the pain of migraines.
- Stimulants – These can increase mental alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate. Sometimes this can help migraine patients because migraines can be due to reduced blood flow to the brain. This is also why a little caffeine can sometimes help with a headache.
- Triptans – This is the main category of drugs for the treatment of migraines. However, results vary from patient to patient, and these medications come with many side effects.
The following medications are available as injections for migraines:
- Botox – In studies, Botox reduced the number of migraines patients had by 8 to 9 per month. Of course, the placebo reduced migraine occurrence by 6 to 7 per month, so it may be just as effective and safer to tell yourself you are getting Botox rather than actually to do it. Injections are performed every 12 weeks and cause symptoms ranging from difficulty swallowing or breathing to whole-body muscle weakness and loss of voice and bladder control.
- Narcotics – These may be injected into an ER patient who is in a lot of pain. It may provide some temporary relief, but it is not a long-term solution.
- Sumatriptan – These shots are primarily used for cluster headaches but may be offered to migraine patients as well. Its function is to stop pain signals from reaching the brain. Once again, this just stops a patient from feeling migraines more than it stops them from occurring. Common side effects include pain at the injection site, a warm or tingling feeling, drowsiness, muscle cramps, upset stomach, and vomiting. There is also the possibility of a more serious reaction that requires immediate medical attention such as an allergic reaction to the drug.
There are also several surgical options for migraine patients. These include:
- Minimally invasive, supra-orbital nerve surgery (MISON) – This is a form of nerve decompression surgery which is used to take pressure off of points in the forehead area.
- Minimally invasive, greater occipital nerve entrapment (MIGONE) – This is similar to MISON except the targeted nerves are the back of the head, particularly at the base of the skull.
- Septoplasty – This is a procedure performed to correct a deviated septum. It is believed that reduced breathing due to a septum deviation may increase nerve pressure.
- Neurostimulation – This is usually used in connection with MISON or MIGONE and involves electrical stimulation of the nerves.
- Nerve blocks – The patient is sedated with a general anesthetic, so pain medication can be directly injected into the nerves. It is usually used while a patient is waiting to have nerve surgery.
Natural Alternatives for Migraine Patients
If none of those options sound good to you (they don’t sound good to us), then we’d like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic. You will notice that this form of care is based on many similar principles regarding the underlying cause of migraines but without all of the risks.
Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the C1 and C2 vertebrae at the base of the skull. Since a misalignment can be causing the nerve pressure that leads to migraines, this is a safer and longer lasting way to get relief. Misalignments can also affect cerebrospinal fluid drainage, thereby increasing intracranial pressure. Once again, correcting the misalignment can relieve pressure on the nerves. Finally, these bones also facilitate blood flow to the brain. If a misalignment is causing a kink in the supply lines, correcting it may help to regulate blood flow.
As an added benefit, upper cervical chiropractors use low-force corrections, so there is no potentially dangerous popping or twisting of the neck. That makes this a very effective and safe way to find migraine relief. So before you try side-effect-ridden medications and injections or invasive surgeries, contact a practitioner near you. You may find that pain in your head has really been a pain in your neck all along.