IV Aspirin for Migraine — It Works but is Not Readily Available

Migraine sufferers whose headaches persist despite exhausting all attempts at traditional treatments may find themselves being admitted to the hospital for relief of their severe symptoms. In a recent study published in the September 21 issue of Neurology, authors presented the results of 168 patients who had been hospitalized for severe headaches or migraines and who were treated with aspirin intravenously to relieve their symptoms. Most of the patients had been diagnosed with a migraine, and almost all were also diagnosed with a “chronic daily headache,” meaning that they had suffered from a headache for at least 15 days out of each of the prior three months.

To explore the IV aspirin treatment option, the study authors focused on a group of patients, primarily women, between the ages of 18 and 75 and gave them 1 gram of aspirin via an intravenous drip, for an average of five doses. In contrast to more controlled studies where people may not know what drug they are receiving so as not to bias the results, all of the patients knew they were being treated with aspirin. Each patient kept a pain diary where they recorded the severity of their headache pain. Many patients responded positively and in more than 25 percent of the treatments, the IV aspirin caused pain to drop down a full category, namely from severe to moderate, moderate to mild, or mild to no headache. Adverse effects experienced by patients using intravenous aspirin were infrequent and minor. As with all forms of aspirin treatment including when taken by mouth, caution should be exercised in patients with histories of asthma, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, or intolerance to NSAID’s such as ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) or naproxyn sodium (Aleve).

Aspirin given intravenously could offer an option for headache and migraine sufferers that is cost effective, safe and effective in headache and migraine cases not managed by traditional therapies. Although aspirin is available intravenously in a limited way in Great Britain and other parts of Europe it is not currently available in the United States. Results such as those presented in this study may help pave the way for future regulatory approval.

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