What Medications Help Migraines?

If you’re one of the almost 40 million Americans who struggle with migraine headaches, you understand how debilitating and life-changing they can be. Craniofacial specialist Dr. Christopher Brooks at Brooks Plastic Surgery helps patients in Hollywood, Florida, escape the pain of chronic migraines with effective, proactive solutions. 

From lifestyle changes and self-care strategies to prescription medications and migraine surgery, different approaches to treatment are available. Dr. Brooks evaluates your migraine history, symptoms, and current or previous treatments to help create a customized plan that provides you with migraine relief.

Many of our patients ask about the different types of medication available for treating migraine pain. Here’s a closer look at some common medications used to treat migraine headaches. 

Medications for acute migraine pain

Acute migraine medications alleviate headache pain or reduce the severity of your migraine symptoms. While these painkillers may numb the discomfort of migraine pain, they can also cause rebound headaches from overuse, so be sure to talk to your provider if you take any of these medications frequently. 

Pain relievers (analgesics)

This type of migraine medication includes over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and prescription pain relievers, like opioid drugs. Long-term use of these medications may lead to severe health disorders, including stroke, liver and kidney damage, and stomach ulcers. If you’re taking analgesics nine or more times a month, be sure to talk to Dr. Brooks about your options.

Triptans

A class of drugs called triptans work by increasing serotonin production in the brain. This constricts blood flow and reduces inflammation to effectively stop your migraine headache. Triptans come in many forms, including sprays, tablets, pills, and injections. These drugs have unpleasant side effects, however, including life-threatening serotonin syndrome if they’re taken with certain antidepressants.

Ergotamines 

Ergotamines work to end your headache by causing the blood vessels that surround your brain to contract. This class of migraine medication is rarely used today, as they can have dangerous side effects including heart problems and birth defects. 

Medications to prevent migraines

While acute migraine medications are designed to alleviate your immediate pain, preventive migraine medications aim to stop migraines from starting. If you experience four or more migraines each month or if your migraines are severe, these medications may help.

Antidepressants

Certain antidepressant medications, like venlafaxine or amitriptyline, not only help lift depression but also work to prevent migraine headaches. These medications often bring unwanted side effects, however, such as weight gain and fatigue. 

Antihypertensives

Drugs that reduce blood pressure have also been successful at preventing migraine headaches. These include medications like calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and candesartan.

Anticonvulsants

Although drugs that help stop seizures can prevent frequent migraine headaches, the side effects, like nausea, vertigo, and changes to your body weight, may make them difficult to tolerate.

Botox® and Aimovig® 

Botox and Aimovig are both approved to prevent migraine headaches, but they work in different ways. Botox injections work by relaxing your head and neck muscles, and are administered about every 3 months. Aimovig, on the other hand, is a type of antibody that targets a specific protein receptor believed to be involved with migraines. You receive Aimovig injections each month. 

Migraine surgery

When medications and other migraine treatments don’t work, it may be time to consider migraine surgery. Dr. Brooks uses migraine surgery to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of your migraine headaches. 

The surgery works by targeting certain nerves, or trigger points, located around your forehead and face believed to activate and sustain migraine headaches. During surgery, Dr. Brooks decompresses these sensory nerves, located above your eyes, over the temples, at the back of your head, and along the nose. 

Research indicates a positive outcome for most surgery patients, with 80-92% of patients reporting the surgery resulted in at least a 50% reduction in frequency of migraines and one-third reporting their migraines stopped completely.

For a customized migraine treatment plan by one of the leading authorities on migraine surgery, contact Dr. Brooks and our team at Brooks Plastic Surgery or request an appointment online now.

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