The Migraine Toolbox

Written by Jessica Puterbaugh | September 13, 2021

A Multimodal Approach to Migraine Treatment

While currently there is no cure for migraine, there are more treatment options available than ever before. Finding the right ones can be a long process that requires a lot of patience.

People with migraine often experience the most success managing their disease with a toolbox approach. This involves combining multiple different treatment options to create a well-rounded plan that can help you better manage life with migraine.

We created the Migraine Treatment Toolbox to help you navigate the many treatments available and encourage you to talk with your doctor about which ones would be best for you. In future posts, we’ll take a deeper look at each of the toolbox tools, but here are some things to consider as you start thinking about your own treatment. Check out these questions to consider when building your PERSONALIZED Migraine Treatment Toolbox:

1. Know Your Migraine Diagnosis

Migraine varies from person to person, so a one-size fits all approach to treatment just won’t do. The type, frequency, and symptoms you have may respond differently to certain medications so it’s important to educate yourself, and partner with your doctor to determine the specific type of migraine you have. Often, a combination of different types of medications and medical devices works best. These include:

  • Preventative medications—used to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks, and primarily prescribed to those who get four or more migraine attacks per month.
  • Abortive medications—work to stop the migraine attack and its associated symptoms.
  • Rescue medications—taken if abortives fail or if you can’t take abortives. Some rescue medications may only be available in a doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency room.
  • Non-invasive medical devices—these devices can help block migraine pain or cluster attacks, and some also are FDA-cleared as preventive treatments, all without the side effects that sometimes accompany medications. Currently, there are five FDA-cleared, non-invasive devices for migraine available. You can learn about them and how they work here.

2. Make Sure You Have a Support System

Migraine disease can be isolating and lonely. Connecting with like-minded people who understand what you’re going through can give you strength on your darkest days. Building a solid support system can look like:

  • Finding a qualified doctor or headache specialist you can partner with to ensure you’re getting proper care.
  • Joining online support groups.
  • Following migraine blogs and organizations on social media.
  • Seeing a therapist who specializes in chronic pain and illness.
  • Surrounding yourself with friends and family who love and care about you.

3. Consider Potential Lifestyle Changes

A holistic approach to migraine treatment often helps yield the best results for disease management. In addition to medications, there may be things you can improve to help manage your overall health. While these things alone won’t cure your migraine, they can be powerful tools to help your condition. You may also benefit from adding other non-pharmaceutical options, such as vitamin supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy, tai chi, and/or meditation. Consider the following:

  • How is my stress level?
  • How is the quality of my sleep? Am I sleeping well/long enough?
  • Am I moving my body each day?
  • How much water do I drink daily?
  • Am I eating a well-balanced diet? Are there dietary changes I should consider?
  • Do I know my triggers and are there things I can do to avoid any of them?

4. Figure Out Alternative Options

Preparing for comfort can help calm and soothe you at times when a migraine attack is imminent. In addition to medications, think about what alternative items you can keep handy to ease your pain and help you through.

  • A comfortable, dark room
  • Blackout curtains/shades
  • Soothing music, white noise, or audio books
  • Heat/ice packs
  • Light-filtering glasses
  • Green lamps
  • Special pillows
  • Weighted blankets
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Foods you can prepare easily or tolerate
  • Hydrating drinks such as water, Liquid IV, Nuun, Gatorade or Pedialyte

Answering these questions and partnering with your doctor can help you build your treatment toolbox and better manage life with migraine.

Do you have a treatment toolbox? Tell us in the comments what options work best for you!

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