An often misunderstood condition, migraine is more than a bad headache.
In addition to a throbbing, often severe headache, migraine tends to include nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine attacks can be significantly debilitating as they can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
Unfortunately, some people experience frequent migraine attacks. When these attacks happen on at least 15 days per month, we call it Chronic Migraine.
About 20% of migraine sufferers experience aura, usually (but not invariably) before the headache starts. Most aura is visual, consisting of a combination of positive visual phenomena (floaters, flashes of light, moving or expanding zig-zag patterns, and so on) and negative phenomena (loss of vision causing blind spots). Many sufferers also experience sensory aura, consisting of tingling and numbness, often spreading over the hand, arm, face, lips and tongue on one side of the body. Weakness, dysphasia, and other aura symptoms are rare.
Between 10% and 20% of migraine sufferers experience premonitory symptoms up to 48 h before their migraines. These may include fatigue or abnormal bursts of energy, neck stiffness, yawning and frequent urination.
A much higher proportion (up to 80%) experience a postdrome (migraine hangover) during which they may experience grumbling headache, a bruised feeling in the head, fatigue and nausea, and a continuing sensitivity to lights, noises, smells and movement.
There are three broad approaches to treating chronic migraine:
While many patients find that lifestyle adjustments such as regularising meals and sleep can reduce the frequency of their attacks, some form of medication or other treatment is almost invariably necessary in patients with chronic migraine.
Many patients with chronic migraine have medication overuse, so it’s important to receive specialised advice on effective pain management.
Numerous medications have been shown to be effective in the preventive treatment of migraine.
In addition to this, there are noninvasive stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and vagal nerve stimulation, that may be as effective as standard analgesics in the acute treatment of migraine. It’s also believed that prolonged use may start to reduce headache frequency.
To find out how we can help you manage your migraine pain, get in touch on 02 4985 1800.
Evers, Stefan (2021) ‘Non-Invasive Neurostimulation Methods for Acute and Preventive Migraine Treatment—A Narrative Review.’ J Clin Med. 2021 Aug; 10(15): 3302.
Weatherall, Mark W (2015) ’The diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraine’. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2015 May; 6(3): 115–123.
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