Migraine Treatment Experiences: Behavioral Pain Management

Last updated: October 2020

It was just as I reached the end of the options for things to try to prevent my chronic migraine attacks that the best opportunity for living a quality life despite the disease came into my life.

Seeing a pain specialist

After diagnosing me with occipital neuralgia, which he suspected was triggering at least some of my frequent migraine attacks and referring me to a local pain doctor for occipital nerve blocks, my local neurologist referred me to a different pain specialist in the metro area. That pain specialist performed a procedure called a radiofrequency nerve ablation on me. It's a fairly common procedure for patients with occipital neuralgia. When I returned for my follow up appointment and reported that it hadn't helped one bit with the frequency of my migraine attacks he had three suggestions: (1) an occipital nerve stimulator, (2) a visit to the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute, or (3) a referral to a local pain management program.

Intensive pain management program

I reluctantly accepted the referral to the local pain management program and left feeling defeated and abandoned. The pain management program called me for an assessment, and I showed up with a serious chip on my shoulder. They said they thought there was a lot they could do to help me, so I reluctantly agreed to participate in their intensive program, which consisted of six weeks of Monday-Friday classes. It ended up being the best thing that has ever happened to me since I started living with chronic migraine disease.

The program I attended at the Lemons Center for Behavioral Pain Management is similar to the program offered at the Mayo Clinic. In fact, Dr. Jim Lemons helped develop Mayo's program, so I got the information directly from an expert in the field.

Finding success in a well-rounded approach

The program takes a well-rounded approach to helping you live your best life despite living with chronic illness. They teach you how to address:

Coping skills I could take home

I highly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go through this kind of program to jump at the chance. The program gave me confidence that I could do more than I thought I could despite living with chronic migraine and taught me how to cope when things are difficult. All of the skills were things I'd tried to work on by myself at home, but having their support and guidance brought all the pieces together for me for the first time. My family and friends noticed a change in me right away. I've been easier to be around even though my pain and illness really haven't improved at all. The way I've related to my pain and illness has changed, however, and that has made all the difference.

Have any of you been through a behavioral pain management program? What were your experiences?

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