Overview of Migraine Treatment in Northern Colorado

FAQs on Migraine Treatment in Boulder, Greeley and Loveland CO

Migraine is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top 20 causes of disability responsible for reduced quality of life and loss of healthy life. The headache disorder is compared with quadriplegia, psychosis, dementia and other disabling medical conditions for its debilitating effect on patients. In the United States, about 12 percent of residents suffer from migraine headaches. About one in every four household has a migraine patient, a figure higher than combined data for diabetes and asthma. The disorder impacts about 18 percent of women.Migraine Headache

What is migraine?

Migraine is a recurring intense, throbbing headache originating in a specific region of the head. Lasting up to 72 hours, the disorder accompanies frequent, severe and pulsating headache. Patients also experience light sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. The throbbing pain on one side of the head, temples and back of the eye and ear make migraine different from tension headaches that originates in neck and shoulder muscles.

How does migraine occur?

Migraine is a neurological disorder triggered by the interaction between brain stem and the trigeminal nerve. When the nerve cells are affected by the disorder, they turn to be extremely sensitive and release inflammatory substances to compel blood vessels squeeze and then enlarge. This creates chemical imbalance that reinforces painful pulsation. Migraines are disabling headaches that most likely stem from problems with the nerves and blood vessels in the head.

There are three different types of migraines that patients experience.

  • Common migraine is the most occurring type and it does not precede by a sensory warning or aura, such as visual disturbance.
  • Classic migraine or a migraine attack following a sensory warning. It is the severest of all types.
  • Status migraine or moderate headache attack that lasts for a long period of time before resolving on its own.

What are different stages of migraines?

Migraine attacks follow a certain pattern. Patients feel discomfort about 2 to 4 hours prior to the headache and the condition gradually worsens.

  • Pre-pain stage: Patients experience fatigue, neck stiffness, constipation or even depression two to 24 hours before the attack.
  • Warning stage: Just before the migraine headache, there may or may not be a sensory warning, such as motor and vision disturbances.
  • Pain stage: The throbbing and pulsating headache begins and other symptoms gradually set in.
  • Post-pain stage: Patients feel disability in the form of inability to think, sore feeling and loss of mental ability to engage in activities about 24 hours after the attack.

What are signs and symptoms of migraine?

Migraine attack is characterized by pulsating, intense headache. It may also include the following symptoms.Migraine headaches

  • Moderate to severe headache recurring over a period of time
  • Pain worsens hours after the attack and turns throbbing
  • Fatigue, nausea, irritation, confusion, sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Loss ability to think
  • Low energy
  • Food cravings
  • Needless sensation in arm and leg
  • Depression

What are the causes of migraine headache?

  • Hereditary: If one parent has a history of migraine, the child is at 40 percent increased risk and if both parents are migraine patients, the risk enhances by 60 percent, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
  • Gene Mutation: Researches also indicate that CADASIL syndrome caused by gene mutation result in migraines.
  • Neurological disorder: Problems in the trigeminal nerve feeding out sensory signals to the face is a known cause of migraine onset.
  • Brainstem disorder: Any change or inflammation in the brainstem impact the trigeminal nerve and migraine starts.
  • Environmental triggers: Patients living in a stressful ambience are highly susceptible to anxiety, sleep disorders, excessive fatigue and other factors that set in negative mood and strain and trigger the attack.
  • Brainstem Changes: When there is any change in the brainstem, it impacts the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensory signals to the face, and painful headache onsets.
  • Neurotransmitter imbalance: If the serotonin level falls, neuropeptides are released into the blood. This forces blood vessels to enlarge and also triggers emotional changes. As a result, pain in the outer brain starts and headache onsets.
  • Other factors: Hormonal changes, food allergy, intake of excessive caffeine, food preservatives, sleep problem and loss of physical stamina also influence the onset migraine headache.

Who are at the increased risk of migraine?

Pregnant women and those born to parents with migraine face the increased risk of having the headache disorder. Stressful work environment, hypersensitivity, intake of more amount of foods with additives, low blood glucose, cervical problem and hormonal therapy are some of the factors that add to the risk of developing migraine headaches.

When to see a migraine specialist?

Consult a doctor if you are subject to throbbing, pulsating, sudden and recurring headache attacks lasting for more than 4 hours at a stretch. Migraine not treated properly may cause recurring severe headache that impacts the ability to work. The side effects of drugs taken to the headache add to the problem.

Lack of awareness leads to only 4 percent of patients seeking medical advice at early stage while about half of people with the disorder wait until the problem worsens.

How is migraine diagnosed by a Colorado pain doctor?

Migraine is diagnosed through physical examination of symptoms and frequency of head pain. Doctors may suggest tests to rule out other causes of headache.

What are treatment methods for migraine in Boulder, Loveland and Greeley?

Migraine treatment focuses on suppressing pain and preventing return of debilitating headache. There is no treatment that can cure migraine at present.

  • Self-Care and Conservative Methods

Adequate sleep, rest, acupressure, acupuncture, muscle relaxation exercises, lifestyle changes, massage, behavioral therapy and chiropractic treatment provide pain relief to migraine patients.

  • Medication

Pain killers, such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, glucocorticoids, ergots, triptans and indomethacin are used to moderate or stop migraine attacks. Doctors may also prescribe beta lockers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs in daily dosages to prevent the reoccurrence of migraines. Occipital-Nerve-BlockHowever, these drugs have increased side effect risks.

  • Long-Term Pain Management Methods
  • Botox injections: The FDA allows Botox injections for migraine headache that affects patients for 25 days or more in a month. This treatment significantly reduces frequency, intensity and scale of attacks.
  • Radiofrequency denervation (ablation): This stuns nerves to certain extent inhibiting their ability to carry pain signals and thus suppress pain perception.
  • Occipital nerve block: A local anesthetic, often mixed with a steroid, is injected to the nerve plexus to disrupt pain signal transmission. The treatment is found to lessen incidence and severity chronic headaches.
  • Sphenopalatine ganglion block: The nerve block using numbing medication can reduce pain and the need for medication, as reported by the Society of Interventional Radiology.

The top pain doctors in Northern Colorado who can help you with migraine relief include the Board Certified physicians at Colorado Clinic. The migraine specialists work at three locations including Boulder, Greeley and Loveland with most insurance being accepted. Call the location closest to you today!