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Migraine: A Journey to Rise Above 2 of 10

Updated on March 15, 2012

This article continues my journey to overcome daily chronic migraines and the other conditions that go hand-in-hand.

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Testing Migraine Medications

Early in my treatment approach, I followed my doctors' recommendations and began treating my symptoms with a variety of medication trials. I tried: beta-blockers (propranolol); calcium channel blockers (verapamil); anti-convulsants (neurontin); tricyclic anti-depressants (amatriptyline); triptans (maxalt); muscle relaxers (flexeril); anti-inflammatory drugs (indomethacin); opioids (many); Concerta; and nausea medications (many).

For me, the beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, anti-depressants, and anti-convulsants had some effect; however, I found the ratio of improvement versus the side effects unacceptable. I felt “off” when I took many of these drugs. I am a passionate person, and did not feel as much, good or bad. Even though I experienced less discomfort and pain from the migraine, it didn’t matter that much. I didn’t feel whole. Ultimately, even my good days weren’t that good.

Another disadvantage to these types of drugs is the length of time it takes to discover the benefits, if any. It can take years to find one that is actually worth taking! Eventually, I removed daily prophylactic medications from my treatment plan.

I do get some relief from anti-inflammatory or analgesics. Ibuprofen can be helpful if I take the correct dose and couple it with a vasoconstrictor. I eventually found a pharmacy grade anti-inflammatory that works fairly well for me also, indomethacin (or Indocin).

Nausea medication is very helpful, but I do become tolerant to individual ones and have to switch periodically. I found it works best to take it at the onset of the headache, right when I feel any hint of the oncoming migraine accompanied with nausea. I have never experienced any adverse side effects with this class of medication. I currently use Reglan.

In the triptamine (or triptan) class of medications, which are vasoconstrictors, I tried Imitrex, Zomig, and Maxalt. The Imitrex injections were very unpleasant, so unpleasant in fact that I often had to find someone else to give them to me. I have a whole new respect for diabetic patients who have to give themselves daily insulin shots! I sometimes experience an uncomfortable side effect from these medications, body aches due to the blood vessel constriction. I currently use Maxalt which has the least side effects for me.

When I am experiencing a migraine that is directly related to body stress and muscle spasm, muscle relaxers can work very well. I do become very sleepy and have to take them in the evening. Since this is only one trigger, taking this class of medication prophylactically did not work for me.

Concerta was a medication I took to combat the overwhelming sleepy spells. At times, this is my most severe symptom. It is normally prescribed for ADHD patients, but has become used more frequently for this use.

I also tried a regimen of vitamins and minerals. I took magnesium (as Cal-Mag-Zinc), B12, riboflavin (B2), B6, and pharmacy grade D. I am D deficient, but cannot be certain if this contributes to my migraines. I found at times it is very helpful to take all of these for a month or so, to support my body overall, which does have a positive effect on my migraines. I also found that regular use of a good multivitamin is helpful, but cannot substitute excellent dietary habits.

The most troublesome class of medications for me are the opioids, which I chronicle in the next article.


Thanks Dr. Piercy!

My neurologist gave me positive feedback on my articles. Her comments:

"it is so great that you were able to gain so much insight and experience...I think your story will be an inspiration for other patients in similar situations....Also, you should consider writing about Botox or Toxin injections for migraine treatment. This could be helpful and informative for other patients."

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