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I’ve tried so many things to ease the pain – A Migraine Story

Migraine is the third most active condition at CureTogether, and affects over 29 million Americans, with women being 3 times more affected than men. One member shares her anonymous story here, and talks about everything she has tried on her search for relief.

“I have migraines, and I have tried many things to ease the pain. While I had incidents of migraines as a child, they really started in earnest after my second child was born, over 25 years ago. I’ve listed what I’ve tried below, what worked and what didn’t, and I’d love to hear what worked for others!

* Fiorinal
The first drug I was given was Fiorinal.  Not something I would recommend. It gave me a buzz and had a rebound effect so that the headaches came back stronger after 4 days.

* Allergies
I was tested for allergies to certain foods and other triggers for migraines and I try to avoid those now: beans, corn, mountain ash.

* Biofeedback
I then tried biofeedback which was at the time an experimental process. They monitored the body’s involuntary physical responses: such as breathing, pulse, heart rate, temperature, muscle tension and brain activity through an electrical device that was attached to my finger.  The objective was to see if changing breathing patterns affected the incidence of migraines.  It did not but it did reduce the severity at times.

* Demerol/Gravol
On occasions when I have been immobile from the headaches and vomiting, I have been given Demerol and Gravol injections.  They put you to sleep and eliminate the symptoms.

* Botox
I have also tried Botox since studies show that it assists in migraines.  It’s effective but expensive and who really knows what the long-term effects are.

* Meditation
Now I try to meditate as much as possible and at severe times, I take Gravol followed by Tylenol 3.

* Early detection
The trick is to catch the migraine at the beginning.  If I can, sometimes just some Advil gel will work because it dissolves instantly.  Once a migraine starts there is nothing to be done but endure it.  This can sometime take up to 4 days and is both debilitating and unproductive.

* Acupuncture
It has provided some temporary relief. But be careful who you use.  The first acupuncturist I tried was  a local chiropractor who said he specialized in this practice.  He placed the needles in the wrong places (directly to the head instead of the back of the neck) and immediately triggered a massive migraine.  The second acupuncturist I tried was the head of a college for acupuncturist.  His results were better.

* Herbs and vitamins
I have tried a variety of herbal remedies such as feverfew and vitamin compounds which included B vitamins which are labelled as helpful.  Again not much relief.

* Heat
One of the things that really helps, if you catch the migraine early enough is applying a hot pad at the base of the neck for as long as you can stand it.  It relaxes the neck and, when combined with a strong cup of coffee, seems to work.  But the trick is to catch the migraine at its outset.  Since I get most of my headaches overnight, it is not always easy to catch.

* Selective serotonin receptor agonists (triptans)
They work by reversing the dilation of blood vessels in the head, stopping pain signals from being sent to the brain, and reducing inflammation in the tissues and nerves surrounding the dilated blood vessels. They did relieve the headache almost immediately but had unfortunate side effects of dizziness, violent diarrhea and uncontrollable vomiting.  Needless to say I only tried it once. However, there are now seven medications in this class (Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Relpax, Axert, and Frova), so trying more than one can be a good idea.

Just writing about migraines is almost bringing one on. Thanks for reading and I hope it helps.”

Thank YOU for writing. If anyone would like to share their experience with migraine, please either leave a comment below, or see what others are saying on the CureTogether Migraine page. Wishing you a pain-free day.

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16 Responses to “I’ve tried so many things to ease the pain – A Migraine Story”

  1. I will give a quick response since the light of the screen (turned as low as possible) triggers migraines for me. This is a tough condition. I’ve tried everything as well. I’ve had botox in my neck which gave me weakness but didn’t help migraine much, every drug, herbs, and acupuncture. I am a doctor and an acupuncturist, and I just wanted to mention, in response to above, that there are appropriate points in the head for migraine, as well as in the neck.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! How interesting that you are a doctor and acupuncturist in addition to having migraines. We are seeing mixed reviews for acupuncture – 2/3 of CureTogether members with migraines have tried it, but there were no definitively positive reviews. In your practice, do you see a lot of success treating migraines with acupuncture?

  3. karen cadenhead Says:

    I too have tried everything you did…topomax was pretty effective..and indocine as an anti inflammatory.

  4. One medication I find that really helps is Aleve – I take 2 and within 20min the pain has subsided if not disappeared all together. Unfortunately, it’s not available in Canada for some reason, I have to get my step-father to bring me back bottles when he travels to the USA. It has worked better for me than expensive prescription meds.
    I have migraines all the time, usually 2 times a month, worse times are 2 twice a week. Thanks for your post, I’m glad I’m not the only one that has tried everything …

  5. Cutting sugar and alcohol out of my diet got rid of 99% of my migraines. Changing my diet was really hard–I LOVE sugar–but the freedom from pain is worth it.

  6. Imigran has by far been the most successful for me. I started having migraines when I was 19 (now 36). There is the nasal spray if you catch it early enough, or the injection which you can use if you are already having loss of vision and vomiting. The only side-affects I have found are a feeling of “fizziness” in my face when the meds start to work, sleepiness and then mild feeling of dehydration when I wake up.

  7. Useful website thanks. Migraine pain is horrible. I’ve only had one in my life and that was enough…

  8. Thanks to my neurologist, I’ve finally started a regimen of natural supplements that really help prevent migraines: 400mg Magnesium Oxide, 400mg B-2/Riboflavin, and 100mg Co-Enzyme Q10 daily. It took about a month or so to really start working, but the result has been amazing!

  9. i have had migraines for 40yrs, tried everything that has been mentioned.
    i have a problem with my migraines coming back and it ends up taking as long as a week to fully get over the migraine. recently i asked my obgyn about a bioidentical estrogen and she put me on the patch. i went from having 2 headaches a week to one every two weeks then it went to 3 weeks and if i am really lucky and pay attention to my triggers i recently went to 4 weeks. i use frova if i have a full blown migraine, i like it the best. i also will use phenagran if i have a headache that just won’t leave and sometimes it works great. if i can catch one early a cup of coffee and advil gel caps may do it.

  10. Tom Hennessy Says:

    Have you looked into excess red blood cell production?
    They have shown when one goes to altitude either in a plane or a mountain one gets a headache. The curious thing is one also experiences excess red blood cells.
    Polycythemia is the correct term.

  11. The earliest I remember having a migraine is age 9. I would think, “Is this how other people feel when they get ‘a headache’?”

    My migraines were not diagnosed until my early 20′s when a doctor prescribed Cafergot for me. He said if the Cafergot helped, my headaches were definitely migraines.

    My migraines continued to plague me. Cafergot got less and less effective — plus it made me sick to my stomach. I always got a horrible migraine the day before my period started. Sometimes I needed a shot of demerol (which put me to sleep) to finally get rid of the headache.

    Interestingly, I never got a migraine throughout my three pregnancies, but they returned shortly after giving birth.

    I was on Midrin for a while & Tylenol with codine. When Imitrex was introduced, it changed my life !!! I didn’t have to live in fear of those migraines anymore, beecause a shot (which I gave myself) got rid of my migraine in about 10 minutes. I found that I could take the Imitrex pills (100 mg) if my migraine wasn’t too severe.

    As for triggers, I know that changes in atmospheric pressure often give me a migraine, as well as drinking alcohol. Sometimes I just wake up with a migraine for no reason that I am aware of. As a matter of fact, most of the time, if I get a migraine, I wake up with it.

  12. I cured my Migraine with Yoga and HOMEOPATHY. After a long battle of 15 odd years and finally in the last 3 yrs with the two above I havent had a single episode of MIGRAINE

  13. Stress has always been a trigger for my migraines so anything I can do to eliminate stress helps. At times, my migraines have been triggered by sore muscles in by back and neck area. Most recently, my migraines were happening every week I got my period. Since I am on the pill, I asked to be put on a pill that did not have a monthly period. This one change has almost completely eliminated migraines in the past 6 months for me. Also, I have found the best treatment for me is Extra Strength Excedrin taken in the morning. If I take it at night I have trouble sleeping.

  14. Can I cure mymigrane with marijuana?

  15. I have had headaches for over 40 years. These turned into migraine level headaches after the age of 43 – maybe due to the loss of estrogen. I had no prescription meds for 20 years and mostly either endured them beause they were relatively infrequent or took over the counter meds (OTCs) on my own.
    Ten years ago a doctor put me on Imitrex wich is one of the triptans now available. By that time I was encountering frequent rebound headaches so the addition of Imitrex helped but could not stop all the headaches.
    I saw a neurologist in 2008 and came to understand that some of the headaches were caused by a cervical problem in my neck as well as the rebound effects of
    OTCs and by “triggers” from some foods, sensitivity to bright and flickering light and high levels of noise.
    During the past year I have gotten serious about triggers (alcohol, chocolate, undetermined ingredients in fozen dinners, avoiding excessive light and noise). Without overuse of OTCs my blood pressure is back to normal. Headaches prevail but come in clusters of 4-5 days rather than everyday.
    I use sumatriptan and try to take it as soon as soon as the headache begins (or the migraine will get away from me and take hours to stop). Sumatriptan is the generic for imitrex and I usually take no more than 100 mg – I do not have after-effects from that amount but am very cautious with it since little is known about long term use.
    I use some OTCs sparingly which I know to be effective for me in between severe cluster migraines. These are Midol or its equivalent (tylenol with caffeine and a diuretic) or Migraine Relief (tylenol with caffeine and aspirin)-the latter can effectively stop a migraine but has a solid rebound effect if taken too often as well as stomach problems with the aspirin. However it effective to use if I am not at home and a sudden headache comes up so I carry it with me for emergency use and rarely use it now.
    I tried several anti-seizure meds (prescribed by a neurologist) but for me they caused a different and severe type of headache which only made the original headache worse.
    Physical therapy helped resolve my cervical neck problems and coping with triggers helped cut down on rebound headaches (and may have stopped them because I am no longer using OTCs on a regular basis).
    For me the migraine is a complicated, chronic problem requiring multiple approaches.

  16. Avoiding my triggers (if I don’t eat breakfast I will get a migraine, driving into glare, being overtired or overheated, holding in anger), topiramate to prevent migraines, and sumatriptan injections when I do get them works very well for me. I also tend to get them in the middle of the night while sleeping, but my brain is now trained to wake me up to take my meds when the pain gets to a certain point.

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