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Migraine Headaches

There is a Better Way

By:  Jason Gruss, MD, FAAPM&R

Many migraine sufferers put off or choose not to take their migraine medicine at all because of the negative side effects.  While avoiding medicines altogether might not be feasible, there are alternatives to consider that can reduce the dependency on medicines to manage migraines.   It’s imperative that you and your doctor develop a headache management plan that includes:

Acute treatment -- a therapy used to stop an attack when it begins.

Preventive treatment -- a therapy used to reduce the number of attacks, lessen the intensity of pain, and prevent the onset of future attacks.

Complementary treatment -- a non-drug therapy used mostly for prevention. In some sufferers, life-style changes and other complementary treatments can prevent the triggering of attacks.

Acute and preventive treatment typically involves some sort of medication.  Therefore, identifying complementary treatments that work for you will help reduce or eliminate the needs for medications by intervening in your headache cycle early – before the onset of the headache.

The National Headache Foundation reports that individuals with disabling headaches such as migraines, have usually inherited a nervous system that is highly sensitive to changes in the environment, both internal and external.  The key to managing headaches is learning to live successfully with your nervous system and to fully understand the role that your lifestyle plays in triggering a reaction from your nervous system. 

According to data published online in the May 2016 issue of Cephalgia, the journal of the International Headache Society, “the majority of individuals with migraine have highly individualized sets of dietary, environmental, behavioral and hormonal factors that may act as triggers of their migraines. The unexpected discovery that the majority of people with migraine may have "unique" trigger combinations further underscores the need for management and treatments expressly tailored to individuals, as opposed to approaches based on the assumption that the vast majority of migraineurs have similar pathologies.”

Take Control of Your Migraines by:

  1. Keeping a thorough and detailed headache diary
  2. Discussing your symptoms with a healthcare professional so that you can develop a treatment plan tailored for you.

Learn About the Three Types of Primary Headaches

Understand and Identify Your Unique Headache Triggers

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About Dr. Gruss:  In 2009, Dr. Jason Gruss established the First Health Headache Clinic to offer patients an integrated approach to treating their headaches.  The strong link between the body's chemistries, neurologic patterns, and muscle and joint functions supports the use of the latest in headache medicines, combined with appropriate non-medicinal therapies. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and a member of the National Headache Foundation, the American Headache Society, and the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

Sources:

http://www.headaches.org

http://www.ihs-headache.org

Additional resources:

http://e-edition.dailyherald.com/popovers/article_popover.aspx?guid=1c8e25cb-9f9a-4f05-86e9-115e006bd087