About Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches affect about 12% of the US population. The pain of a migraine is characterized as a throbbing pain that usually occurs on one side of the head. If left untreated, a migraine attack can last anywhere from 4-72 hours. Nausea and/or vomiting often accompany migraines. Some migraines can be preceded by an “aura” which may include visual disturbances, numbness/tingling, loss of muscle strength, or difficulty speaking. Migraines affect adults and children; the onset is usually during adolescence and is more common in women than men. The causes of migraine are not clearly understood, but there are a number of known factors that can trigger a migraine attack.
Common migraine triggers can include:
- Hormonal changes
- Certain foods
- Food additives
- Sleep problems
Stages of a Migraine
- Prodrome: 24-48 hours before a migraine subtle changes may occur such as food cravings, mood swings, increased thirst or urination, or frequent yawning.
- Aura: most people who experience migraines do not have aura. The symptoms of aura can last 20-60 minutes.
- Migraine pain.
- Postdrome: Can last up to a day after the migraine has ended and people report feeling exhausted and confused before feeling normal again.
There are many ways to treat migraines including over the counter pain relievers, prescription medications, injections, and lifestyle changes. Treatment can be divided into abortive and preventive.
Abortive therapy attempts to stop symptoms once they have already begun. The goal of abortive treatment is to relieve pain associated with migraine symptoms. Some medications are available as over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen and others are available by prescription only. Triptans (i.e. Imitrex, Maxalt, Relpax) are the most prescribed medications and provide the quickest relief.
If you have frequent migraines, preventive therapy may be an additional option. Preventive therapy attempts to reduce the frequency, severity and length of migraines. Common types of preventive medications include cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and Botox injections around the muscles of the head and neck.
Each treatment plan is patient specific so talk to your healthcare provider about what’s best for you. If you are looking for a physician who specializes in the treatment of migraines, OrthoNeuro has 2 board-certified neurologists who specialize in headache. Click the button below to request an appointment.
Dr. Taylor is a Board Certified Neurologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of head/neck and neuropathic pain, movement disorders, EMG, EEG, and botulinum toxin therapy. Dr. Taylor earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Texas. He attended medical school at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of North Texas Health Science Center pursuing research in neuroscience. He received a D.O./Ph.D. Fellowship from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and two separate American Osteopathic Association Burroughs Wellcome Fellowships.
Dr. O’Donnell is a Board Certified Neurologist specializing in headache treatment and research. Dr. O’Donnell attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he received his Bachelor’s Degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He attended Medical School at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri graduating with high honors. Dr. O’Donnell completed his Internship at Doctor’s Hospital and his Residency at OSU Hospital both in Columbus, Ohio. While at OSU Hospital Dr. O’Donnell served as chief resident and started the OSU Headache Clinic. Dr. O’Donnell was elected by his peers for inclusion in Best Doctors in America® from 2009 to 2016.