Headache and Migraine Treatments

Do you suffer everyday from a headache or migraine? Have you tried all forms of headache and migraine treatments without success? Look no further!

The Dr. Diane® integrative team of brain health experts using her 5 Prong Approach, provides customized Headache and Migraine Treatments. Dr. Diane® sees each person as a unique individual and knows that one method does not fit everyone.

Foods that Can Trigger or Worsen Headaches

If you are troubled by frequent headaches, you should eliminate suspect foods from your diet and see if your headaches improve. Then, add back one food at a time to see which, if any, trigger headaches.

  • Alcohol
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans (except green or wax)
  • Cheeses (ripened types, such as Cheddar or Brie)
  • Chicken liver
  • Chocolate
  • Cured meats (such as bacon, bologna, or ham)
  • Fermented, pickled, or marinated foods
  • Figs (canned)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
  • Peas
  • Pizza
  • Sour cream
  • Vinegar (except white)
  • Yeast-raised breads and cakes
  • Yogurt

 

Conventional Treatments

Well-known over-the-counter painkillers, including Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, and others), Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin, and others); Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, and others); Ketoprofen (Actron and Orudis); and Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), are the ideal starting place for treatment.

Since your body may develop a tolerance, you can increase the effectiveness of over-the-counter drugs by varying the types you take. It is important to be cautious about doses, since analgesic-rebound headaches are a possibility.

Severe or persistent head pain may call for prescription medications. Certain drugs used for cardiovascular problems reduce headache pain because they keep the blood vessels in the head from becoming constricted. Other types of drugs, including some antihistamines, anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications), ergot derivatives, antidepressants, and steroids can also reduce inflammation, relax muscles, or disrupt nerve activity. See below, Drugs Used for Headaches.

Your choice of headache medication will depend on several factors: the nature of your headache; the type and intensity of pain; your medical history and the other medications you take; and the results you have experienced with other remedies.

Arnold Sadwin, MD, a Psychiatrist, pioneered two office treatments that bring quick relief to headaches. The first, which stops an ongoing migraine within twenty minutes, is a scalp injection of Marcaine 0.5%, 1 cc in an insulin syringe with a short needle. Another treatment is the administration of oxygen at eight liters for twenty minutes using a simple face mask.

Analgesics

Use:
General pain relief and headache prevention.

Examples:

  • Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin Ecotrin, and others)

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, and others)

  • Combinations (Anacin, Excedrin, Fiorinal Medigesic, and others).

Anticonvulsants

Use:
Headache prevention; also used to control seizure activity.

Examples:

  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Valproic acid (Depakene)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin).

Antidepressants

Use:
Pain relief and headache prevention; also used for treatment of depression.

Examples:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)

  • Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)

  • Phenelzine (Nardil).

Beta Blockers

Use:
Headache prevention; also used for treatment of high blood pressure and heart problems

Examples:

  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Timolol (Blocadren)

Calcium Channel Blockers

Use:
Headache prevention; also used for treatment of high blood pressure.

Examples:

  • Diltiazem (Cardizem)
  • Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • Nimodipine (Nimotop)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)

Ergot Derivatives

Use:
Pain relief and headache prevention, especially for migraine and cluster headaches.

Examples:

  • Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45)

  • Ergotamine (Ergostat)

  • Ergotamine combinations (Bellergal-S [also contains phenobarbital, belladonna alkaloids] Cafergot [also contains caffeine])

  • Methylergonovine (Methergine)

  • Methysergide (Sansert)

Narcotics

Use:
Treatment of intense, persistent pain.

Examples:

  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone combinations (Percocet, Roxicet, Tylox [also contain acetaminophen], Percodan [also contains aspirin])

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

Use:
General pain relief and headache prevention

Examples:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, and others)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis)
  • Naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox)

Steroids

Use:
Treatment of intense, persistent pain.

Examples:

  • Dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol, and others)
  • Prednisone (Deltasone, Sterapred, and others)

Tranquilizers

Use:
Treatment of intense, persistent pain.

Examples:

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Thiothixene (Navane)

It may be necessary for your doctor to try several different prescriptions before finding the one that works best for you.

Headache drugs have numerous potential side effects. Some drugs can worsen preexisting health problems or have serious, even deadly, side effects if taken in improper doses. If you are taking medication for headaches, follow your doctor’s usage instructions carefully.

Another approach that may be helpful for headaches is Psychotherapy. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves exploring the connection between cognition (thoughts), beliefs, feelings, behavior, and pain. Dr. Diane is a licensed Psychologist who is board certified in Behavioral and Health Psychology.

Physical therapy can be effective against headaches associated with muscle spasms and pain in the face and neck. Water therapy and ultrasound techniques are similarly helpful. Other methods include aerobic exercise and maintaining consistent sleep patterns. If you smoke, quitting may help.

Complementary

Acupuncture helps control headache pain by stimulating the release of endorphins. An Acupuncturist inserts hair-like needles into specific points on your body. A related type of treatment, Acupressure, involves pressing and then rotating the fingertips firmly against certain points on the body. William Mogan is an Acupuncturist on our Brain Health Team.

Behavioral Medicine (Health Psychology) has been very effective in treatment of Headaches and Migraines. Extensive research has shown that Biofeedback can be very effective against chronic headache pain. Hypnosis is similar to Biofeedback in that it can help you learn to control bodily sensations. Hypnosis teaches you to monitor your body through intense focusing. Dr. Diane® is a board certified Health Psychologist and is published in the field of Hypnosis.

Developing a relaxation response is a good way to reduce stress, release tensed muscles, and combat hormonal changes that can result in headaches. Proficiency at yoga, meditation, visualization, and other relaxation techniques can also help with pain.

Chiropractic treatment has been effective in treating post traumatic, tension-type, and some migraine headaches. Chiropractic manipulation by a licensed Chiropractor reduces abnormal motion and irritation to the neck muscles, nerves, and other tissues. Dr. Paul Schoonman is the Chiropractor on the Brain Health Team.

Alternative

Non Drug treatments may reduce the frequency and intensity of your headaches. It is advisable to consider and experiment with non drug approaches to headache pain under your doctor’s supervision.

You may also want to consider using homeopathic remedies and herbal preparations for headaches. Recommended are herbs such as arnica, feverfew, peppermint, skullcap, and white willow bark, or homeopathic remedies such as Bryonia, Ferrum phosphoricum, Gelsemium, and Natrum muriaticum. Dr. David Sollars is the Homeopath on our Brain Health Team, and Dr. Diane® is a Bach Flower practitioner.

Reiki, Polarity, QiGong, Kyusho, and meditation are all effective methods for treating the various forms of PTH. Reiki, Polarity, QiGong and Kyusho are passive approaches in which another party is doing something to you to relieve your symptoms, whereas meditation is an active method that depends on your ability to concentrate.
Clara Diebold is the Reiki Master on the Brain Health Team.

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Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971

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