Chronic Migraine Relief: Effective Options

There’s nothing quite like a migraine. The debilitating condition affects more than 39 million people in America alone and is considered the third most prevalent health condition worldwide.

And if you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know it’s more than just a bad headache; it’s so severe that it incapacitates you. The sharp, pounding pain usually attacks one side of your head or the other, but migraines have been known to affect both sides at once.

About 4 million people suffer from more than 15 migraines a month. We call this chronic migraine.

At the Aesthetic Surgery Center in San Francisco, California, Dr. Michael Macdonald and our team of experienced health care providers see many patients struggling to find a solution to this life-altering condition. You may be wondering how a board-certified plastic surgeon can possibly help your migraines. Here’s how.

What we know (and don’t know) about migraines

Migraines are a bit of a mystery. No one knows exactly why some people suffer from them and others don’t. We do know that they come in two forms: tension migraines, which involve contractions in your head and neck, and vasodilation, which involves constricted blood vessels.

More women (roughly one in four) than men suffer from migraines, but it can affect people of any age, gender, and ethnicity.

Adding to the list of unknowns are the causes of migraines. Here are a few possibilities and theories:

  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Stress
  • Food and drink
  • Sleep patterns
  • Food preservatives and additives
  • Medications
  • Sensory impact: strong smells, sounds, and glare

Regardless of what triggers your migraine, you may experience any or all of the common accompanying symptoms such as visual disturbances like auras, nausea and vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell.

Medications may or may not help you if you have chronic migraines. Even if they help lessen your symptoms, if you take drugs for your migraines (even over-the-counter) every day for several days, it can backfire on you and become the cause of your headache, rather than the cure — this is called a medication overuse headache.

Lifestyle remedies you can try at home

It’s a good idea to develop a migraine diary that maps out the context of your episodes. Write down what you eat, how you feel (depressed, stressed, angry), how you’re sleeping, what the weather is like, what you see, smell, taste, and hear. This can give you and your health care team a clearer picture of your triggers, which helps make your treatment more effective.

If your migraines are occasional or mild, you might be able to get some relief by trying some simple at-home remedies.

Because sleep patterns are theorized as a possible trigger for migraines, regulate your sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same times every day and making sure you don’t sleep too little or too much.

Monitor your diet and eating schedule. Don’t let yourself get famished, and if you’re noticing a pattern of migraines after eating or drinking certain things, begin to eliminate them from your diet.

Practice relaxation exercises and breathing techniques to reduce stress. Exercise regularly and stay hydrated.

How a plastic surgeon can relieve chronic migraine pain

If traditional and homeopathic treatments aren’t working for you, Dr. Macdonald may be able to offer another solution. As an experienced plastic surgeon, he specializes in the cosmetic uses of Botox®️ injections in the treatment of dynamic facial lines. But Botox is also FDA-approved for the treatment of chronic migraines.

This treatment seems to work best on patients who have more than 15 migraines a month, especially the type related to muscle contraction. Botox is not yet approved for treating migraines in those who experience 14 or fewer migraines in a 30-day period or for people under age 18.

When Dr. Macdonald skillfully injects a dose of Botox into the contracting muscles, the medication also enters into the nerve endings in the area, blocking the transmission of pain signals. Your Botox session is painless and only lasts about 20 minutes.

It may take a couple of days for you to feel the benefit of your Botox injection. Once it kicks in, you can expect up to six months of relief from your chronic migraines, and you can come back in for a booster injection when it begins to wear off.

There’s no reason to suffer from chronic migraines. If you’ve tried other treatments and still need help, call us at 415-956-3223 or request an appointment online. We’re here for you: We are offering complimentary FaceTime consultations until the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

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