New Preventative Guidelines Offer Relief for Chronic Migraine

May 3, 2012

If you suffer with chronic migraine and choose to manage it with medication instead of using a drug-free migraine prevention approach, the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society can help. Once an attack comes, do you retreat into a dark room and try to sleep it off?  Maybe you have tried taking medication once the throbbing pain begins, only to find that its too late, and your symptoms aren’t responding.  Or maybe the side effects made you feel even worse.

According to the latest guidelines, published in the April 24 issue of Neurology, 38 percent of migraine sufferers require daily preventative medication to avoid attacks or lessen their severity. However, only 3 to 13 percent actually follow this treatment protocol, preferring to treat their migraine drug free, or symptomatically once an attack is already underway.

“Migraine is one of the most disabling conditions known to man, but patients need to know that there is hope,” says Stephen Silberstein, a neurologist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, a Fellow at the American Academy of Neurology and lead author of the guidelines.

If you experience the occasional migraine, taking medication on a daily basis may not be necessary, and drug free migraine treatment options, such as yoga,  migraine trigger avoidance and lifestyle changes can be effective to manage your migraines. However, if you suffer with severe or chronic migraine, defined as occurring on at least 15 days of each month, the preventative guidelines may apply to you.

The guidelines evaluated various prescription, over-the-counter and herbal therapies for effectiveness. Among effective prescription drugs were several seizure medications like divalproex sodium and topiramate, blood pressure lowering beta blockers like metoprolol  propranolol and timolol, and a menstrual-migraine drug, frovatriptan.  The seizure drug lamotrigine was found to be ineffective. Potentially effective non-prescription drugs include the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, ibuprofen and naproxen.  Herbal preparation petasites, known as butterbur was found to be an effective herbal remedy. Magnesium, feverfew, riboflavin and histamines were also indicated as ‘probably effective’.  Silberstein noted, “people need to keep in mind that all drugs, including over-the-counter drugs and complementary treatments, can have side effects or interact with other medications, which should be monitored.”

A preventative migraine treatment plan including daily medication may not be right for every migraineur. If you suffer with chronic migraine, and have tried medications without satisfying results, perhaps due to unpleasant side effects, drug-free solution such as a migraine procedure may be an appropriate alternative for you.

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