Migraines are complex disorders involving episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. They generally present as a headache on one side and may be associated with visual or sensory symptoms (such as seeing flashes of light, colorful or bright shapes, or hearing sounds of various types) collectively called “aura.” The aura may occur before, during, or after the onset of a headache. An episode of migraine can be very painful, lasting for hours, making everyday activities difficult. Women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
Although migraines cannot be cured, they can be managed with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
Treatment of migraines:
- Over the counter (OTC) painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Avoid the triggers as much as possible
- Triptans are drugs that work by balancing the chemicals in the brain, for example, sumatriptan, rizatriptan, zolmitriptan, and almotriptan
- Practice a regular schedule to get up and go to bed
- Ergot derivatives (ergotamine tartrate and dihydoergotamine)
- Eat healthy wholesome foods
- Antidepressants such as amitriptyline or venlafaxine
- Avoid skipping meals and avoid a large time gap between two meals
- Anticonvulsants (drugs given to treat epilepsy) such as divalproex sodium or topiramate
- Do regular physical exercise
- Beta-blockers such as propranolol or timolol
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Calcium channel blockers such as verapamil
- Practice ways to minimize or cope up with stress
- Hormone therapy may help in women whose migraines are possibly linked to their menstrual cycles
- Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids such as green tea, soups, and smoothies
Besides the standard treatment options, alternative therapies such as acupuncture and acupressure have also been popular for managing migraines. There is, however, insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of these options in treating migraines. Thus, you must consult your doctor before trying any alternative therapies or medications.
Acupressure is widely regarded as a safe option to manage various health conditions including migraines. It has its origin in Chinese traditional medicine and comprises special massages, often self-administered, at certain specific sites called acupressure points or simply “the pressure points” or acupoints. You may learn about these points from an experienced practitioner of acupressure. These points are said to be located next to the largest nerve fiber pathways in the body that carry messages from the nerve endings through your spinal cord and brain. On pressing these points correctly,
- The messages carrying pain to the brain are blocked.
- Certain messages are transferred to the brain to release chemicals that relieve pain and produce a sense of well-being.
The pressure points for migraines include:
- LI 4: This point, also called Hegu, is located in the web between your thumb and index finger. This acupoint must not be used in pregnant women. Use the thumb or index finger of the hand on the side opposite to your pain to apply firm but tolerable pressure on this point for 2-3 minutes.
- Acupoint 26: It may help relieve severe migraine headaches. The point is located centrally just below the nose, in line with the bridge of the nose. It is around one-third way down to the upper lip.
- LU 9: It is located on the largest crease on the inner side of the wrist, in line with the thumb.
- SJ 17: It is found on the back of the jawbone, just below the ear.
- PC 6: This point may help relieve nausea and stomach discomfort associated with migraine. It is found slightly about 2 inch above the wrist joint on the palm side of the wrist and between the large tendons.
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