New Migraine Treatment Guidelines

Courtesy of The American Headache Society

January 31, 2014

As if we didn’t know by now that over prescribing medication for migraine treatment is risky, now come new guidelines from the American Headache Society recommending how physicians should approach diagnosing and treating migraines. Currently medication, trigger avoidance, nerve blocks, neurostimulation and even migraine plastic surgery are treatments that are prescribed to treat this condition, which ranges from episodic and mild to debilitating and chronic.

According to a HealthDay news article on WebMd, a special task force developed the new guidelines after reviewing data collected via electronic surveys of American Headache Society members.  The final proposals were based on commonly reported shortcomings in headache and migraine treatment.

Diagnostic recommendations include opting for prescribing MRI exams that use powerful magnets rather than CT scans, which expose the patient to some radiation, in non-emergency headache cases.  Treatment guidelines include avoiding: migraine plastic surgery procedures; prescribing barbiturate or opioid medication as an initial treatment; and excessive or lengthy use of over the counter pain drugs.

The president of the American Headache Society stated “Our aim is to encourage doctors and patients to think carefully about medical care that can be harmful or unnecessary.” She added, “we didn’t approach this with cost uppermost in mind. The goal is to help address the problems of low-value care.”

From medical news stories, we already know a great deal about the serious dependency issues that are associated with overuse of powerful prescription painkilling drugs.  But even relying on over the counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also lead to problems with rebound headaches in the long run.  Migraine plastic surgery requires cutting nerve and muscle tissue thought to be involved with migraine pain.

The president of the American Headache Society said, that since new drugs must go through a rigorous federal review process for approval in patient care, irreversible surgery should at least have to pass that hurdle as well.  Unlike that surgery, a procedure implanting a neurostimulation device doesn’t require any irreversible cutting or removing of nerves and muscle.

It is certainly a good thing that the headache experts are continuing to seek ways of improving the quality of migraine and headache care.  Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent migraine treatment options that are well accepted and yield successful outcomes.

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