Migraines are complex neurological disorders with unique causes and treatments. Migraines can interfere with every aspect of life—from daily activities to work and sleep—and the pain can be excruciating and debilitating. While the medical field is still working to understand all of the underlying causes of migraines, the good news is that new treatments are constantly being developed that improve the quality of life of migraine sufferers. Here are a few of the newest treatments that have helped many migraine sufferers prevent and treat migraine pain.
Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) inhibitors are a relatively new type of medication to help prevent and treat migraine pain. Initial trials of these medications have been promising and indicate that CGRP inhibitor treatments can help to reduce both the number of migraines experienced and the intensity of each migraine.
CGRP is a protein in the trigeminal ganglion nerve. CGRP plays a part in migraines by causing dilatation of cranial blood vessels. Additionally, it might also be involved in the transmission of pain from dilated vessels to the brain. CGRP inhibitors work by either blocking the CGRP receptor (the “docking site”) or by blocking the protein itself.
There are currently three FDA-approved CGRP inhibitors: Aimovig, Ajovy and Emgality. All three are administered by subcutaneous injection. They are generally given once a month, depending on the dosage and which drug is used.
Botox is an FDA-approved treatment for chronic migraines, which means 15 or more migraine days per month. It has proved to be a successful treatment for many chronic sufferers, and research indicates that the more migraines a person has per month, the more likely it is that this treatment will be successful.
Botox is injected around the sensory nerve fibers that are involved in the attacks. Botox blocks the release of the chemicals involved in pain transmission. The result is that the brain does not get the message when there is pain in those areas..
One treatment, which usually involves 31 injections into seven key areas of the head and neck, lasts for about three months. For most patients, it takes two treatments to experience the benefits of Botox. Most people reported having half as many migraine days per month. This is encouraging data and good progress in the fight against migraine pain.
SPG Nerve Blocks
Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) nerve blocks is another way to reduce the number of migraines for chronic migraine sufferers. The SPG is a group of nerve cells inside and behind the nose. These cells are linked to the trigeminal nerve, which is the primary nerve associated with migraines. The link between SPG nerves and the trigeminal nerve is an important one, and blocking SPG nerves can significantly reduce head and face pain.
Given that connection, the SPG nerve block treatment works by numbing SPG cells. SPG nerve blocks are a quick and minimally invasive treatment. A swab with cotton soaked in lidocaine or bupivacaine is inserted in each nostril to administer a numbing medication. The medication must stay on the SPG nerves until the patient feels relief, for about 10 minutes. This can be done in a doctor’s office.
This treatment can be repeated as often as needed. Research indicates that doing the procedure twice a week for six weeks (a total of 12 treatments) can effectively reduce migraine frequency and intensity for up to six months.
These minimally invasive treatments are just a few of the options available to chronic migraine sufferers. If you’re experiencing migraine pain, contact us today so that we can create a comprehensive and effective treatment plan to help you prevent and treat migraine pain.