According to the American Migraine Foundation, around 37 million Americans experience the extreme pain and disabling effects of migraines every year. Migraines can cause severe disruption to your life as well as being notoriously painful, but triple board-certified physiatrist Stanley Mathew, MD, of American Rehabilitation Medicine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Dubuque, Iowa, could offer you hope. Dr. Mathew provides a range of effective treatments for migraine and focuses on using non-opioid medications and complementary therapies. Call American Rehabilitation Medicine today to schedule an appointment or use the online booking form.
What are migraines?
Migraines are a type of headache that can cause crippling pain and other distressing symptoms. Migraines typically follow a four-stage process:
Prodrome starts a day or two before a migraine strikes. Symptoms can be very variable; for example, neck stiffness, food cravings, or constipation could all be symptoms of prodrome.
Aura doesn’t affect everyone who has a migraine. If you do experience aura, you might have visual disturbances like seeing flashes of light or having blurred vision. Many people experience sensory sensitivity or motor disturbances during aura.
This is when the pain sets in. You might get pain on both sides of your head or just one. You’re also likely to feel nauseous and vomit, have blurred vision, and experience lightheadedness or fainting. Many people find the pain so intense they can’t function during a migraine attack.
As the migraine comes towards its end, you might experience more odd feelings, such as:
- Sensitivity to light
Migraines can last for several hours or several days.
What causes migraines?
There’s no one cause for migraines, but there are triggers that can set a migraine off. These triggers are unique to you, and over time, you can learn to recognize what your triggers are and avoid them. Typical triggers include:
- Processed foods
- Very salty foods
- Highly caffeinated drinks
- Drastic weather changes
- Bright lights
- Strong smells
- Certain medicines
- Lack of sleep
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Low blood sugar
Having a family history of migraines means you’re more likely to get them too. Migraines usually begin when you’re young and start to decline in frequency as you get older. They typically peak when people are in their thirties.
How are migraines treated?
There aren’t any cures for migraines, but there are some useful therapies that can help you manage your migraines.
Avoiding triggers is key to managing your migraines, so keep notes of everything you ate, drank, and did leading up to your migraine attacks. Over time, you should be able to identify a pattern that can help you stay clear of triggers.
As migraines affect the brain and spinal cord, as well as the surrounding nerves and blood vessels, physical therapies can help in alleviating migraine symptoms.
Massage therapy, for instance, could reduce stress and tension that can trigger a migraine, and ease the symptoms during an attack.
Strong opioid painkillers may be effective at first when treating migraines, but their effectiveness not only tends to wear off but in the long term, can cause even more severe migraines.
Instead, Dr. Mathew at American Rehabilitation Medicine uses medications such as prochlorperazine, metoclopramide, or subcutaneous sumatriptan to treat acute migraine symptoms.
He also uses medical Botox® for migraine patients. Botox can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks when administered regularly.