Migraines are one of the most common health conditions in the world and often run in the family. In America, 12% of the population suffer migraine headaches and, if you’re one of the millions in pain, you know just how debilitating it can be. While you can try to power through migraine attacks, most people retreat to a dark room and spend the day in bed.
However, there’s no reason to suffer, especially when there are so many treatments available to help minimize symptoms. Here are just a few treatment methods that can relieve your pain and make your 2021 better.
1. Oral Medication
If you’re experiencing symptoms of an oncoming headache, you might be able to relieve the pain before it even begins. As soon as you notice your migraine warning signs, take an oral pain reliever or prescription medication. Advil, Motrin and Ibuprofen can provide short-term relief. Meanwhile, prescriptions for triptans, lasmiditan, ubrogepant and dihydroergotamines may offer long-term solutions. People who can’t take migraine medications may also take opioid medications and anti-nausea drugs.
2. CGRP Inhibitors
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved new drugs to treat migraines. These medications include calcitonin gene-related peptide monoclonal antibodies like Aimovig, Ajovy and Emgality. The CGRP inhibitors block a sensory nerve protein in the head and neck to minimize pain during migraine attacks. Patients who choose this treatment will receive injections each month and enjoy fewer drug interactions and less damage to their liver and kidneys.
Most people picture facelifts and wrinkle removal when they think of Botox. However, botulinum toxins can also effectively treat migraines. This temporary solution can relieve pain for about 12 weeks before you need another injection. Since Botox typically relieves jaw tension, sufferers of bruxism and temporomandibular joint pain often benefit from Botox. While it’s by no means a cure-all, this treatment can be an effective and affordable option since most insurance plans cover it.
4. Cefaly Headband
If you need short-term, quick relief, wearables like a Cefaly headband may prove useful. This small device straps to your forehead and delivers a series of small electrical pulses to stimulate a nerve linked with migraines. Wear the Cefaly for one hour during an attack to minimize symptoms or strap it on for 20 minutes a day as a preventative measure. While this treatment won’t eradicate migraines from your life, it certainly can reduce their frequency and intensity.
5. Magnetic Stimulation
Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation devices may also offer some relief. This treatment is a safe, easy and non-invasive way to prevent migraine attacks. One study demonstrated that four pulses from these devices twice daily reduced headache frequency to just three days per month. Nearly half of the participants also experienced a 50% decrease in headaches. For certain patients, this treatment method may be more manageable than oral medications and injections.
Much like Cefaly, Nerivio uses electrical neuromodulation to minimize symptoms and prevent intense migraines. The system involves a wireless device that sticks to the upper arm and shoulder at the onset of a headache. Control the wearable with your smartphone to deliver small electrical currents and induce conditioned pain modulation. Most patients report relief for at least two hours following treatment, with each one costing about as much as a generic triptan.
7. Portable nVS
Non-invasive Vagus nerve stimulators use electrical stimulation to relieve pain, too. However, these handheld stimulators — like the gammaCore device — release mild stimulation to nerve fibers in your neck. The nVS is FDA approved to treat cluster attacks and prevent headaches. However, it’s only available by prescription. Adjust the intensity level and treatment duration to suit your needs and experience quick relief without medication or injection. Talk to your doctor to determine if this option is right for you.
Applying pressure to specific points of the body can relieve muscle tension and alleviate pain for some migraine sufferers. One popular pressure point is LI-4, the space between your left thumb and pointer finger. Using acupressure to apply circular pressure to this point may temporarily relieve headache pain. You can also use this treatment method to reduce nausea or vomiting. See a specialist to receive treatment or apply pressure yourself to experience relief.
Biofeedback therapy uses a trigger and release method to tense and then relax tight muscles. This treatment involves placing sensors on different muscles so you can receive real-time feedback on muscle tension. Patients can then use this information to consciously relax and release tight areas that may contribute to migraines. Sensors along the jawline, forehead and trapezius muscles generally help to target such muscles.
Don’t Knock It Until You Try It
Some of the above treatments may seem a bit strange, especially if you’ve only ever tried over the counter medications. However, if you’ve tested various treatment methods and nothing’s worked yet, you might have some luck with these methods. As you search for relief, be open to trying new things. With a little patience, you could find relief in 2021 and make this year the least painful one yet.