If you are familiar with migraine headaches, you know how debilitating such pains can be. The migraine pains are common and unfortunately, the symptoms can be controlled but not cured completely. Migraine treatment will help you to manage those symptoms and control the severity of the pain.
Effective migraine treatment is based on the proper diagnosis of the condition. Your neurologist may treat you for migraine pain based on the following factors such as:
- If you are experiencing the common migraine symptoms.
- There is a history of migraines in your family.
- Your medical history.
- Physical examination.
- Neurological study.
Your doctor may order an MRI, X-ray, or CT scan to rule out other medical conditions such as a tumor, strokes, brain infections, or other neurological disorders for your pain.
What are the migraine symptoms?
Migraine symptoms can occur before the pain sets in, during the migraine, or even after the pain goes away. The symptoms generally come in four stages:
- Prodrome is the early signs that warn you of an incoming migraine attack.
- Aura or visual symptoms.
- The attack-phase symptoms which you experience during the onset of the pain.
- The post-drome symptoms. They occur after the migraine attack is over.
The prodrome symptom’s intensity and severity may vary between different people. They generally include symptoms like:
- Stiffness in the neck.
- Mood swings.
- Stool hardening.
- Increase in the frequency of urination.
- Frequent feeling of thirst.
- Feeling sleepy and tired all the time.
The Aura-phase Symptoms
The aura phase may occur before or during the migraine pain. These are generally neurological visual symptoms that can last for a few minutes or an hour. Symptoms include:
- Sudden loss of vision.
- Bright flashes of light.
- Stinging sensation in arms and legs.
- One-sided numbness in the face and body.
- Sensitivity to sound.
- Acute head pain.
The Attack-phase Symptoms
Migraine attacks may occur as rare as twice in a month or several times a week. The attacks may be mild to severe and may last a few hours to even three days. Symptoms of the attack phase include:
- Throbbing pain in head.
- Light sensitivity.
- Discomfort due to loud sounds or noises.
This is the last phase of your migraine pain. People generally feel relieved after the prolonged pain of migraines. There may be weakness and fatigue due to the severity of the pain.
Types of Migraine Pain
Migraine can be of different types and their symptoms may be different as well.
Brainstem Aura Migraine
Brainstem aura formerly known as basilar migraine comes with the aura symptoms. This may occur due to limited blood flow in the brain. Symptoms include:
- Vertigo or feeling of dizziness.
- Blurred vision.
- Difficulty in speech.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Occasional fainting.
- Light sensitivity.
- Fatigue and weakness.
Chronic migraines can occur every other day and are more frequent. Usually, they occur for 15 days in a month.
Menstrual migraines usually occur before menstruation starts or during the menstrual cycle. They are generally without any aura symptoms and are related to the menstruation cycle.
Hemiplegic migraine is a rare kind of migraine and can cause temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. The symptoms are quite similar to the stroke and the two should not be confused. The best way is to call a doctor and take expert advice.
Hemiplegic migraine symptoms include:
- Slurred speech.
- Numbness on one side of the face, arms, and legs.
- Blurred vision.
Ocular or Retinal Migraine
Ocular migraines are a type of visual migraine and are extremely rare. They can be very severe and may even cause temporary blindness in one eye. These migraines usually occur due to limited blood flow or blood spasms in ocular nerves of the eye.
Ocular migraines can occur with or without any pain and may last for half an hour or more.
An abdominal migraine is not a typical migraine but as the name suggests, involves pain in the abdomen. It generally occurs in children where they get a pain in their belly. The pain can be severe accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and cramps.
Children with a family history of migraines generally get abdominal migraines. Children who suffer from abdominal migraines have a tendency to develop migraines in their adulthood.
Vestibular migraine is related to our nervous system and is associated with vertigo-like symptoms or dizziness. The affected person may get a vestibular migraine but without any headaches. The pain may last for a few minutes to more than an hour.
Causes of Migraines
Proper migraine treatment involves understanding the causes and the reasons that trigger the migraine attacks. Here are a few reasons that may trigger a migraine attack:
- Stress and anxiety. These are some of the prime reasons to get migraines. Stress releases brain chemicals that can cause migraines.
- Believe me, gender plays a major role in getting migraines. If you are a woman, your chances of getting migraines are 3 times higher than a man.
- Overconsumption of alcohol. Too much consumption of alcohol can cause migraines.
- Caffeine is used as a migraine treatment alternative, but too much of caffeine intake can trigger the pain. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms occur when you suddenly stop taking caffeine. This may trigger migraine pain.
- You can get migraines if there is a history of migraines in the family.
- Menstrual cycle. Menstruation can trigger migraines.
- Changes in sleep patterns or not getting enough sleep can cause migraines.
- Dehydration or severe loss of water in the body can trigger migraine pains.
- Missing important meals during the day can cause a drop in sugar levels in the blood. This can cause migraines.
- Excessive workout or physical activity can cause migraines.
- A sudden change in weather like extreme heat or cold weather can trigger the pain.
- Overuse of medications. If you take medications for migraine treatment for a prolonged period, the migraine pain can revert back.
Natural Remedies for Migraine Treatment
Thinking of how to get rid of a migraine pain without the pain medications? The good news is there are several natural remedies for migraine pain and most of them are available at your home.
Acupressure is an alternative therapy for managing pain for migraines and headaches. The process involves putting pressure on specific areas or points on your body to relax the muscles and relieve pain.
There are specific pressure points that can relieve the pain and also reduce nausea related to migraine pain.
Ginger has proved to be one of the best remedies for migraine treatment and is often compared to sumatriptan, a drug used for migraine treatment.
Dried ginger powder not only gives you relief from migraine pain, but also helps in soothing vertigo symptoms, heartburn, and nausea.
Take some dried ginger powder and mix it with water and drink it. You will find relief within 30 minutes. Alternatively, for mild headaches, you can also make some ginger tea and drink it.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga along with meditation makes holistic improvement of your health including migraine pains.
Light yoga along with meditation calms your body and reduces stress and anxiety. It lowers down the heart rate and reduces blood pressure. This will significantly reduce the throbbing pain along with nausea and dizziness associated with migraines.
It is however advised that one should try out light poses in the beginning. Too much of rigorous yoga can trigger migraine pain.
Body massage has been proven to be one of the best ways of relaxing the muscles and alleviating pain including headaches. You can hire a masseuse or self-massage the areas around your shoulders and neck. This will relax the muscles of your body and also reduce the symptoms of nausea and dizziness.
Herbal remedies are rich in antioxidants and do not pose any side effects to your body. Natural ingredients have been used for generations for treating several ailments like pain, aches, fever, and inflammation. Here is a list of herbs that can be used for relieving migraine pain.
- Feverfew. Originated in ancient Greece, this plant now grows worldwide and is very helpful in treating migraines. All the parts of the plant like the leaves, stem, and flowers are used. They are used in dried forms or the leaves can be eaten raw. However, feverfew should be avoided during pregnancy or if you are experiencing side effects like headaches or sleep disorders.
- Butterbur. The root extract of the plant is used and also pills are available for migraine pains.
- Peppermint. This plant grows abundantly in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. Peppermint is an allrounder and is used in several pain remedies like toothaches, headaches, nausea, etc. Peppermint oil is available in pills or topical solutions. You can also brew in some fresh peppermint tea for easy relief.
- Coriander seed. This spice has excellent healing properties and helps to treat headaches, arthritis, diabetes, sinusitis, and some forms of allergies. The anti-inflammatory components of coriander seed help in alleviating migraine pains.
- Lavender Oil. The highly aromatic lavender oil has antimicrobial properties and is used extensively in aromatherapy, perfumes, and insomnia, and pain relief. The lavender oil should be diluted properly before use or else they may cause skin irritation. Apply the oil gently on your temples and you will get quick relief.
- Rosemary. The sweet smell of rosemary oil has been used for therapeutic purposes for generations. They are available in liquid extracts, capsules, and even in teas.
Medications for Migraine Treatment
Migraines cannot be cured completely. There are medications that can control the symptoms and give relief. Medications for migraine are of two types:
These medications are used to stop migraine pain once it starts. They are generally taken if you are experiencing symptoms like nausea or dizziness along with acute headaches. Abortive medications are available as oral pills, nasal spray, or skin patch.
- Pain medications: Include over-the-counter drugs or pain medications mostly aspirin and ibuprofen like Motrin IB, Advil, Excedrin Migraine, or Motrin Migraine Pain. Triptans are prescription drugs and are available as nasal spray, oral pills, or shots.
- Anti-nausea medications: Include medications like Chlorpromazine, Metoclopramide, Droperidol, prochlorperazine, etc.
- Injections and nasal sprays: Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45 Injections) and Migranal Nasal spray are available as injections or nasal sprays.
Preventive medications are prescribed when you have long-lasting frequent migraines or do not respond well to abortive medications. These medications are aimed to control your symptoms and reduce the severity of your migraine attacks.
- Blood pressure medications: Medications that are used to lower blood pressure can be used for controlling migraines. Beta-blockers like metoprolol tartrate, propranolol, timolol and calcium channel blockers like verapamil can be used to control migraines.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants like amitriptyline and nortriptyline can be used to treat migraines. However, amitriptyline has side effects like weight gain and excessive sleepiness.
- Antiseizure meds: Antiseizure medications like topiramate, valproate, and gabapentin can help in pain but have side effects like nausea, dizziness, etc.
- CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) Inhibitors. CGRP causes migraines. CGRP inhibitors are medicines that prevent migraine attacks. Erenumab and fremanezumab are given as injections. You can administer these injections on your own. They are available in a device that looks like a pen and is easy to administer.
- Botox Injections. Botox shots are not only a cosmetic remedy for treating wrinkles and facelifts, but they can be very useful in treating migraine pains. Remember to take Botox injections from a person who is trained in treating migraine pains.
- This may sound a little weird, but mild anesthesia can be used to treat migraines. The treatment is given in a doctor’s clinic. The procedure is FDA approved and is completely safe. A thin catheter is inserted into your nostrils inside your nose. The anesthetic will numb your SPG (sphenopalatine ganglion) cells that are often associated with headaches. You will be awake during the entire session. The x-ray machine will monitor the whole procedure while the tubes are inserted into your nose.
These are some of the ways you can manage your migraine problem.