Chronic migraine headaches interfere with your ability to enjoy and live life to the fullest. Migraines can steal precious time with friends and family, take you away from the things that you are most passionate about and even impact your career. If you’re one of the more than 36 million Americans who suffer from migraines, you’ve likely experienced some or all of those frustrations. But you can get help and regain control.
In this blog, we discuss what causes migraines, how they can affect life and what treatment options are available.
What Causes a Migraine?
Much remains unknown about what causes chronic migraine headaches. They are believed to be related to the levels of the chemical serotonin in the body, and they are also believed to be hereditary. The American Migraine Foundation reports that patients whose parents suffered from migraines have a 50 to 75 percent chance of getting them, as well.
Migraines typically occur in people between the ages of 15 and 55, but can happen in all age groups. There are many symptoms, but they are primarily characterized by long-lasting or recurring headache pain and increased sensitivity to external stimuli, such as light, sounds or scents.
Migraine attacks can be triggered by a number of things, including sensory input (loud sounds, bright or flashing lights, strong smells), stress, hormone changes or illness.
“We encourage patients to talk with family about their symptoms, and to keep headache diaries, in order to better understand how they are being impacted”Dr. Ronald C. Segura
How Chronic Migraine Headaches Impact Our Lives
Living with this sort of invisible illness can lead to a sense of hopelessness. Patients suffering from chronic migraine headaches sometimes feel angry, lost or defeated.
Migraines can last for days. That means patients often have to live with the symptoms if they can’t be away from work or don’t want to cancel previously made plans. Because there are so many kinds of migraines, patients will often experience a broad range of symptoms.
That’s why we encourage patients to talk with family about their symptoms, and to keep headache diaries, in order to better understand how they are being impacted. This helps with early and more accurate diagnosis, management plans for triggers that cause migraines, and more accurate treatment options.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic migraine headaches, but there are several treatments which may lessen the discomfort or frequency. ”Dr. Ronald C. Segura
What Are the Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic migraine headaches, but there are several treatments which may lessen the discomfort or frequency.
Most migraine sufferers have developed common practices that can help avoid an attack. Things like reducing stress, getting more sleep, and remaining hydrated can help ward off migraines. Over-the-counter medicines can also help with everyday pain.
Those practices and treatments are not always enough, though. When they fail, your doctor may turn to a “rescue” treatment to relieve the pain from a single headache, while employing a more comprehensive treatment plan to attempt to reduce the frequency of migraines.
In the short term, a nerve block, such as a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block or Radiofrequency Ablation, can turn off pain signals. These treatments may help relieve pain while patients work with their doctor on a more long-term treatment plan.
For those who suffer chronic migraines, meaning more than 15 days per month, regular Botox injections may help. While Botox is often thought of as a cosmetic treatment, when injected in strategic areas, it can keep the muscles that cause pain from contracting. Patients who find success with Botox generally see less frequent and less severe headaches.
In more extreme cases, a doctor may recommend a device known as a Spinal Cord Stimulator, an implant which sends electrical pulses to the nerves to relieve pain.
Why Should I See a Pain Specialist?
This website is not intended to provide specific medical advice, medical diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Segura Neuroscience & Pain Center provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use this information in place of the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Segura Neuroscience & Pain Center is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this website.