Bearing in mind that migraine is a disease that can chronify, it’s not only important to know the signs for when preventive treatment is appropriate, but also to have a road map to follow once you’re in that place. A Preventive Action Plan (PAP) is a road map for treatment communication and care planning. Having a PAP gives you a sense of direction and independence as well as the greatest potential for relief. It raises awareness of different approaches to preventive migraine treatment, and it also makes you a partner with your doctor in your disease management and healthcare. Your involvement in a PAP is essential, because you know your body best, you know how migraine is impacting your life, and the PAP needs to be integrated by YOU into your care and daily life.
Creating a Migraine Preventive Action Plan
As you look at creating a PAP, there are several things to consider as you partner in your healthcare and become an empowered patient:
Finding the Right HCP
The first step is to work with the right healthcare professional. With less than 1,000 certified headache specialists in the US (and the situation being no better in other countries), it may not be possible for you to see one of those specialists at first. However, while finding the “right fit” can be challenging at best, it really is crucial. A great place to start is with the Migraine Meanderings’ headache specialist search. If you can’t find a doctor near you on that list, ask other patients for recommendations in your area, and don’t be afraid to ask your primary care doctor for referrals to your HCP of choice if you have insurance that requires a referral, and then asking to change if necessary. You can also consider virtual options such as Neura Health virtual headache clinic if there is no-one with a physical location near you. In short, be relentless in finding a provider to be your partner in your migraine journey. You must be confident in your provider and treatment plan. Knowing that your provider has a plan that looks a few steps ahead can put you at ease.
Knowing Your Treatment Options
There is value in knowing what the next steps might be should a procedure, treatment or medication not provide relief. Also in knowing ways that you can combine different modalities. Knowledge is power! Educating yourself on migraine diagnosis, treatment and support options available provides you with the building blocks for your PAP. This is especially true if you are seeing an HCP who is not certified in headache medicine, but even if you are, knowing your diagnosis and what it means is paramount. As you discuss these with your provider, you then need to find out which preventive treatment options you should try. For example, evidence-based prescription medications, non-invasive medical devices, integrative treatments, lifestyle changes, and OTC options. Knowing the treatment options gives you the opportunity to discuss the varied aspects of migraine management as you talk with your HCP to see if there is anything else you can be doing to better manage your migraine.
Connecting for Support
Migraine can be an isolating disease. Reaching out for support is imperative. A support group, online community and/or advocacy events with other patients help you feel like you’re not alone on your journey. Sharing your experience and journey with others who “get it” creates deep connections that are irreplaceable. The sharing and caring support offered through this complements your PAP.
Not Giving Up
As we all know, migraine is an invisible disease. We need to stand together to achieve the greatest potential for relief. There are resources, support groups that are virtual, telemedicine, lists of headache specialists, and new and evolving treatments and technology.
You never know which new treatment may provide you the greatest potential of relief, NEVER GIVE UP!
The Take Away?
Find the right HCP, know your treatment options, advocate for yourself, make connections with others who understand, and, most of all… Don’t give up!
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