A lot about migraines is not understood. There’s no single way to get rid of a migraine and what causes them varies from person to person. Many doctors’ (especially hospital-employed doctors) typical “quick fix” for migraines is running to their script pad and prescribing a drug. This is usually a result of ignorance combined with a pressure for speed in seeing their patients. The problem with placing such an emphasis on drug treatment and prophylaxis is doctors will often overlook what is actually causing the patient’s migraines. The drugs may leave you with an immediate migraine relief, but they will not help you get your migraines under control in the long-term.
If you are a “migraineur” — a person with the circuitry in the brainstem for migraines to be triggered — we can never get rid of your ability to have a migraine.
Unfortunately, those connections are something you’re stuck with.
But, we can provide you with migraine relief and markedly change their frequency by uncovering and treating the root cause(s) of your migraines.
Here are 7 tips that can lead you to migraine relief
1. Stop Blaming the Triggers
Your migraine may be triggered by a number of things – stress, certain foods, neck problems, hormonal influences, sleep problems, and more. It’s common to blame these as the cause of your migraines. But, really, the triggers are just the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.
Migraines are caused by a piling-up effect of other problems and these triggers are simply the last thing in a chain of events that have happened. Instead of blaming them, try to avoid your migraine triggers as your doctor digs deeper into the real predisposing causes that enable the migraine cascade to be triggered.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Don’t hesitate. If you have a headache, and it’s the first or worst headache of your life, don’t wait for the pain to continue, hoping it will go away. Don’t think about it, seek medical attention right then.
3. Find a Headache Specialist
If you have recurrent headaches, don’t go to see a general doctor such as a family practitioner or internal medicine doctor. They’re trained in many different medical topics, but headache is not one of them. Instead, it’s important to seek help from a headache specialist, like a neurologist. (First time seeing a specialist? Read my tips for what to look for when finding one).
4. Be Upfront With Your Doctor
When you see a specialist for your headaches, be sure to bring up any issues you have had with your sleep, sleep quality, and/or neck. There is a correlation between sleep disorders, neck problems, and migraines, so it’s important for your doctor to have this information when treating your headaches.
5. Stay Firm
Some doctors may just run to their script pad the moment you mention “headaches”. Don’t let them. Remember – this may give you immediate migraine relief, but it won’t fix the problem. Insist on them exploring the main predisposing causes of your headaches that enable the migraine cascade to occur, or find a new specialist who will.
6. Say “Thanks” to Your Migraines
Now, I imagine this sounds pretty crazy and maybe too “zen”, but start viewing your headaches as a good thing. For a migraineur, headaches are a barometer that not everyone has. Your headaches are trying to tell you something. And that something can help you avoid even more serious problems down the road, especially when your sleep and neck are involved. So rather than hating them, be grateful for how they’re helping you in the end.
7. Medication Isn’t a “No-No”
I know I talked about the problem with doctor’s overemphasis on drug treatment. And while this is true, don’t be afraid of the appropriate use of medications to help with migraine relief. In fact, my practice uses medications every day when helping patients. Sometimes we have to “put out the fire” with infusions, injections, and medications, while we’re investigating those predisposing factors.
The key is we always evaluate and treat the underlying and predisposing factors. By doing this, we can frequently avoid chronic drug therapy. Because every drug has at least two types of side effects: those you know about, and those you don’t.