It is thought that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men are affected by migraines. Migraines are severe headaches often associated with nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Whilst many people may experience migraines infrequently maybe with as long as a year between attacks, others can experience them on a monthly or weekly basis and the discomfort associated with them can be debilitating when an attack is taking place. There can be many potential triggers for migraines including certain foods (chocolate, cheese caffeine), stress and the menstrual cycle although the exact cause for them is currently unknown. The widespread opinion is that the nerves, blood vessels and chemical balances within the brain can sometimes go through brief changes, such as temporary widening of the blood vessels, which give rise to the symptoms. Some sufferers will notice that they have a warning sign just before a migraine starts and this is called an aura. Others will not experience an aura and their migraine will just appear.
Unfortunately for the many migraine sufferers, there is no known cause although there are simple ways to treat the symptoms. Non-prescription painkillers can be easily purchased and are effective although some people may require a prescription from their GP for a type of medication called Triptans. These relieve the migraine by reducing the widening of the blood vessels within the head and are usually effective within 2 hours. If the migraine is accompanied by vomiting then an anti-nausea medication may also be required. If sensitivity to light and sound is an issue then lying in a dark, quiet room can also be beneficial.
The best treatment for migraines if often prevention and patients will begin to notice a pattern to when they suffer a migraine attack, or identify a trigger food or drink which can be avoided. For those who suffer persistent attacks which have not improved with regular medication then there is the option of undergoing a procedure of a set of injections to the head and neck using powerful injection therapy. The injection therapy paralyses the nerves in the area it is injected into and as a treatment for migraines this can help to prevent the pain signals being transmitted through those nerves, relax the muscles around the head and therefore the pressure on blood vessels and prevent the signals being sent to start a migraine.
At the London Interventional Clinic we offer specialist assessment and treatment of migraine pain, commonly involving simple outpatient injections performed by our Consultant, Dr Stephen Humble, Consultant in Spinal Medicine and Pain Medicine. Contact us with any questions you may have or to book a specialist pain assessment.