- Take the Headaches Quiz
- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches - Slideshow
- Headache & Migraine Triggers - Slideshow
- Patient Comments: Migraine - Triggers
- Patient Comments: Migraine - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Migraine - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Migraine - Relief
- Patient Comments: Migraine Headache - Causes
- Find a local Neurologist in your town
- Migraine headache facts
- What is a migraine?
- What are migraine triggers?
- What causes migraines?
- What are the risk factors for migraine?
- What are the signs and symptoms of migraines?
- How are migraines diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for migraines?
- Migraine medications
- What self-care treatment and lifestyle changes work for migraines?
- How are migraines managed during pregnancy?
- How are migraines managed in children?
- What is the prognosis for migraines?
- Can migraines be prevented?
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What is the treatment for migraines?
The treatment for migraines depends upon on how frequently the headaches occur and how long the headaches last.
The treatment of an acute migraine headache may vary from over-the-counter medicines (OTC), like acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) to prescription medications.
- Triptans (sumatriptan, rizatriptan, eletriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, almotriptan, and frovatriptan), may be extremely effective in treating migraines and may be prescribed to help the patient treat their migraine at home. A combination of naproxen and sumatriptan is now available. Additionally, sumatriptan is now available as a patch which delivers the medication though the skin.
- Not every patient can take these medications, and there are specific limitations regarding how often these medications can be used.
- Other medication regimens may also be used to control migraine headache.
- Some medications are appropriate for home use and others require a visit to the health-care professional's office or emergency department.
Other migraine treatments
- Dihydroergotamine (DHE 45) can be administered intravenously or by nasal spray; this medication cannot be used if a triptan has been used within the preceding 24 hours.
- Diclofenac potassium for oral solution (Cambia) is a potent anti-inflammatory medication recently approved for treatment of migraine.
Narcotic pain medications are not necessarily appropriate for the treatment of migraine headaches and are associated with the phenomenon of rebound headache, where the headache returns -- sometimes more intensely -- when the narcotics wear off. In all cases of migraine, the use of acute pain therapies must be watched closely so that a patient does not develop medication overuse headache.
Overuse of many of the medications used to treat migraine headache can lead to increased headache frequency, or even daily headaches. This type of headache phenomenon is known as medication overuse headache.
If an individual experiences frequent headaches, or if the headaches routinely last for several days, then preventive medications may be indicated. These may be prescribed on a daily basis in an effort to decrease the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine headaches. There are many different medications which have been shown to be effective in this role, including:
- blood pressure medications, for example, propranolol (Inderal), nadolol (Corgard), verapamil (Clan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan), and flunarizine),
- anti-seizure medications, for example, divalproex sodium (Depakote and others), topiramate (Topamax), and gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise),
- antidepressant medications (amitriptyline and venlafaxine) and
- other supplements (magnesium, butterbur, and riboflavin).
The specific medication which is selected for a patient is dependent on many other factors, including age, sex, blood pressure, and other pre-existing medical conditions.
Some patients who experience more than 15 headache days every month might benefit from Botox injections.