Have a Chronic Migraine? Read This!

woman with migraineWhat 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:

  • Caffeine
  • Exposure to brightness
  • Lack of food or sleep
  • Stressful situations
  • Strong odors
  • Neck pain
  • Smoking

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 explained by 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.

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

  6 comments for “Have a Chronic Migraine? Read This!

  1. August 12, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I get migraines and if I catch them early, which I can tell when I am getting one by either my left side or right side go numb, i take a Excedrin migraine with a little coffee and water and this helps me a lot. Some smells can trigger them and certain voices throughout the day which lead to stress. I use to get a lot of them throughout the month but now it is 1-3. Thank-God!!

  2. Robin
    August 11, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I’ve suffered with migraine headaches since I was a young child. I’ve been treated with over the counter and prescription medications which only worked temporarily or not at all. What worked best for me was changing my eating habits, exercise, getting plenty of sleep and keeping myself hydrated. By doing this I only get a migraine about once a month compare to several in a month. I’ve heard about using Botox for CM but I’m not a big fan of needles. My best friend swears by Botox injections for CM. For now I’m going to stick with trying to keep myself naturally healthy. Thank you for posting this article.

  3. August 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I rather have contractions then have migraines that’s how bad mine pain is

    • Michelle
      August 11, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      I started getting migraines after I had my baby in 1993, never had a headache before that. Was never told it was caused by the epidural I had either. But, I do know what you mean, because I would rather have my kidney stone pain over a migraine which feels like my head is going to explode sometimes. I can’t focus, I can’t say what I am thinking, I just go lay down, with ice mask and a couple Tylenol because I refuse to take the medications that were given to me for migraines. I always pray that if I fall to sleep, that the good Lord wakes me. Because, I feel like if I close my eyes, I will never wake up. My Migraines have broken up, so, I don’t get them as often anymore. Good luck with those Botox injections. I wish only the best for you!

  4. August 11, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I suffer from migraines since I was 13 years old now I am 34, sometimes I last up to a month with migraines every single day. They are the worst pain I ever had in my whole life. I made all kind of tests and I know most of of migraines medications by heart, finally I just found a clinic in Boston that they will start to give me Botox shots. I never been so excited in my whole life. Looking forward to take this pain away from my life. Thank you so much for posting this subject I was waiting for so bad. I am very happy and I know I learned something new today. Thank you. I just love this article.

  5. Michelle
    August 11, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I do get migraines, not as often as I use to. I do find that I get them with a drop in the air pressure. Also, if I don’t drink enough fluids.

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