Migraine Headaches: How to Prevent and Treat It
Migraine headaches are the third most common illness globally, and almost one in four U.S. homes have someone suffering from it. Approximately 12% of the U.S. population are affected by migraines and their crippling effects. These headaches are also not that simple to diagnose, as symptoms vary per person. Here’s what you need to know about migraines, including some of the best treatments.
What are Migraines?
Migraines are often recurring acute or chronic headaches that cause moderate to severe, pulsing pain that can last for hours or days. You’ll feel this pain along one side of your head, and it may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sounds and light.
Women are three times more prone to developing migraines than men. You may also be susceptible to it if there’s a family history. Other risk factors include insomnia, bipolar disorder, elevated stress levels, and epileptic fits.
Migraine sufferers normally experience four phases:
- Prodrome Phase: The prodrome stage could begin a day before you get the actual headache.
- Aura Phase: During the aura phase, you may have visual disturbances like flashing lights.
- Headache or Attack Phase: You’ll experience the actual pain during the attack or headache phase, and this is often coupled with nausea and light sensitivity.
- Postdrome Phase: The postdrome phase occurs after the headache pain has subsided which may result in tiredness.
There are two types of migraines; namely classic and common. A classic migraine is accompanied by the aura phase, and a common migraine occurs without an aura.
What Causes Migraines?
According to Healthline, migraines can be triggered by:
- Genetic predisposition
- An underlying central nervous disorder
- Vascular system irregularities and
- Brain chemical imbalances
Hormonal changes and fluctuating serotonin levels may also trigger migraines, as well as stress, colds, flu, dehydration, strong smells, and skipping meals.
How to Diagnose a Migraine Headache
Your neurologist will record a detailed family history to help diagnose migraines. He or she may ask you questions relating to how often the migraines occur and how severe it is. You’ll also need to give an account of how the migraines are affecting your daily life. Your doctor will conduct a comprehensive examination with a neurological assessment.
Treatment Options for Migraine Sufferers
You could use Over the Counter (OTC) medication like ibuprofen, paracetamol, naproxen, and aspirin to help alleviate migraine pain. You could also place an ice pack on your head or neck to ease the pain. Sipping on a cup of caffeinated coffee in a quiet, darkened room may help too.
If that does not help and your migraines are affecting your quality of life, why not try our interventional pain relief treatments at MidSouth Pain listed here:
Cervical Medial Branch Blocks
This can be utilized to treat and reduce pain associated with migraines if your pain stems from a cervical joint facet. An anesthetic is injected over your medial branch nerve close to your facet joints. This stops the transmission of pain signals to your brain, which causes excruciating migraine pain.
During the procedure, your skin is numbed with a local anesthetic first. We utilize an x-ray called a fluoroscope to direct a thin needle with dye to mark the right place, and then inject anesthesia to your medial branch nerve via the needle. You may experience rare side effects like nerve damage and increased pain from the injection site.
Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Nerve Blocks
With this procedure, we inject an anesthetic to your SPG, which is a collection of nerves situated deep in your mid-face or behind your nose. The SPG area is also linked to your trigeminal nerve, the main nerve associated with headaches; making it the perfect method to alleviate pain related to migraines.
With this procedure, the patient is sedated, before a fine needle is inserted near the SPG to administer the anesthetic. You should not opt for this if you’re pregnant, as an X-ray is used to guide the needle to your SPG. One of the risks here is that you may experience hemorrhaging if a blood vessel is touched via the needle. This can also cause a nose bleed.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
This method is ideal for treating headaches and peripheral nerve pain. It treats chronic migraine pain with radiofrequency injections, that deactivate the nerves in your neck responsible for transmitting pain signals.
We first numb the area with an anesthetic. A current is passed via an electrode attached to a thin needle. The needle is injected into the painful area and burns the medial branch of the nerve responsible for transmitting pain signals to your brain. Some of the risks here are that you may have heat damage to the structures close to the targeted nerve. You may also develop an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used to numb the area.
Schedule an appointment to consult with one of our interventional healthcare professionals today at one of our conveniently located MidSouth Pain Treatment Centers near you.