What gives you a migraine? For that matter, what gives you a chronic migraine? Just from reading the previous two sentences about migraines, you might already be developing one. Should that be the case, read on and by the end of this post you will have a much clearer idea of what you can do to lessen, and maybe eliminate, that insanely irritating migraine pain!
Let’s start out by defining what a chronic migraine (CM) actually is. You know you have one if:
- You experience migraine headaches 15 or more days in a single month
- They occur over the course of three or more consecutive months.
Caffeine, exposure to brightness, and lack of food or sleep, are just a few of the reported causes of a CM. Very often, the development of a CM in a person will be preceded by a series of migraines that can occur within weeks or months of each other.
So, how can you cure a chronic migraine? There is no one definitive answer to this question (at least not yet). How can you treat a chronic migraine? This is a question with lots of potential answers but no one universal answer for everyone. Your health care provider can guide you through some of the options available, but there are medication options and non-medication options to lessen the pain.
One Medication Option Highlighted
One of the most talked about migraine treatments in the last few years is, believe it or not, Botox (also known by onabotulinumtoxinA, or botulinum toxin type A). In 2010, the FDA officially approved it as a chronic migraine treatment. A story on healthline.com offers more insight into how Botox can alleviate a CM, and reasons why it may or may not be the best option for a CM sufferer,
What About the Non-Medication Route?
The most simple of all non-medication suggestions is making small changes in one’s own lifestyle. Doing things we know are naturally therapeutic, such as getting more sleep and exercise and staying on a more routine meal schedule, are likely to help lay the groundwork for a steady dissipation of your CM. Just as simple a solution is to avoid things which typically cause CM’s. These include:
- Exposure to brightness
- Lack of food or sleep
- Stressful situations
- Strong odors
- Neck pain
Of course there is no way for us to avoid all these things entirely, but as long as we keep our exposure to a minimum, the impact of our migraines may be minimized as well.
Behavioral Therapy Options
Finally, three specific types of behavioral therapy tend to do the trick for CM sufferers. The first two are biofeedback and relaxation therapy, which are both effective on their own and when they are combined as illustrated by this bit from the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute (MHNI). Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the third, and the MHNI does a great job explaining this option as well.
Take this migraine quiz to review some of what we have learned, as well as to learn some new CM facts:
Join the conversation! Do you suffer from migraines? Do you have any tricks to lessen the frequency or pain?
Content expert: Rani Alexander, MD, West Boylston Family Medicine