Migraines are debilitating headaches, often accompanied by excessive light and noise sensitivity, nausea, and/or vomiting. The pulsating or throbbing pain of a migraine headache can take place on one or both sides of the head. Migraine sufferers may experience warning signals before a migraine appears, such as spots of blindness, flashes of light, or tingling in the extremities. Head and neck pain, muscle spasms, and TMJ dysfunction are believed to trigger more than 60% of chronic headaches.
Types of Migraines
A transformed migraine looks and behaves like a tension headache.
Medication overuse headaches (also called rebound headaches) are migraines that develop as a result of the regular use of certain types of medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil and Excedrin can cause rebound headaches, as well as narcotics, triptans, antihistamines, and migraine treatment drugs such as Fioricet and Midrin. The list is not comprehensive.
Doctors in the Phoneix area can treat migraines by prescribing beneficial drugs, taking the patient off of rebound-causing drugs, utilizing nerve blocks, splint therapy, and in some cases surgery.
Symptom-relieving medications. A migraine headache that has already begun can be treated with symptom-relieving medications to help minimize the pain and other symptoms. NSAIDs (i.e. ibuprofen), aspirin, and combo drugs of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine can be effective in treating migraine pain that is mild or moderate. For more severe migraines that are accompanied by nausea and light sensitivity, stronger triptans or ergotamine can be prescribed. In some cases, prescription medications with codeine may be indicated, especially if the patient is unable to tolerate other, more common, migraine drugs.
Preventive Medications. Taken before a migraine sets in, these drugs not only lessen the severity, length and frequency of migraines, but may also improve the effectiveness of symptom-relieving drugs. Common migraine preventive medications include beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, SNRI antidepressants, anti-hypertensives (blood pressure meds), calcium channel blockers (medicines for heart disease), and some anti-seizure drugs (i.e. Depakote and Topamax.)
Non-Surgical Migraine Treatments
Eliminating the triggers for migraines, such as head/neck pain, TMJ problems, or muscle spasms, is an effective non-surgical means for treating migraines. Pain associated with the jaw joints, head, and/or neck can be treated with TMJ splint therapy. Once relieved, this type of pain no longer triggers migraine headaches. Other patients may benefit from preventive measures such as occipital nerve blocks (injection of a steroid medication in the vicinity of the nerves at the back of the head) or Botox injections in the forehead or neck.
Surgical Interventions for Migraine
If all other attempts fail, surgical intervention can be used to prevent the incidence of migraines. Surgeons can either surgically remove certain nerves and muscle tissue in the face (those that affect frowning and chewing) or correct a deviated septum in individuals where the cartilage and bone in the nose leans to the left or right