There is no cure for migraines at present, however carefully managed painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen in particular) can help to control the pain for many suffers. There are also combination medications available over the counter which combine painkillers with anti-sickness drugs, which some sufferers find more effective than painkillers alone (even if they don’t suffer from nausea).
Painkillers should be taken at the very first sign of an attack, as they are less effective once the symptoms have taken hold. If you are unable to take them straight away then soluable painkillers might be a better choice as they are absorbed more quickly. You should also be aware that taking painkillers frequently can actually exacerbate the symptoms of migraine, known as a “painkiller headache”.
For chronic migraines we offer Botox treatment. In the 1990s Botox, the botulinum toxin, was reported to have an improving effect on headaches by people taking it for other medical conditions. Clinical trials were then carried out and found that 70% of the patients treated with Botox had more than halved the number of headaches they suffered each month.*
In treating migraines with Botox, very small quantities of Botox are injected into the skin or muscles around the head, neck and shoulders, repeated every 12 weeks. Some patients notice little improvement until after their second round of injections and it can take a third round for it to make a difference for a small number of patients.
It isn’t fully understood how Botox relieves migraine headaches. It is thought that it affects the nerves which carry the pain signal, effectively blocking certain pain pathways which are key to the headache phase of a migraine. Botox has also been successfully used in the treatment of other pain conditions.
Please note that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding Botox cannot be administered. Other medical conditions may also affect your eligibility for Botox migraine treatments, this will be discussed with you in full at your free initial consultation.
You should also ensure that you work closely with your doctor to manage your symptoms. Additional treatments are available, generally through the NHS, including:
- Triptans – these medicines can help prevent migraines by reversing blood vessel changes in the brain which might cause an attack.
- Anti-emetics – anti-sickness drugs not only help with migraine-induced nausea, but also appear to help reduce the headache symptoms.
- Acupuncture – a course of acupuncture treatments may be of benefit.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation – this procedure delivers small magnetic pulses through your skin into your head and can reduce the severity of migraine attacks.
Please note that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should advise your doctor or consultant before undertaking any treatment.
*Source: The Migraine Trust