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Migraine Treatment Experiences: IV Therapy for Intractable Migraine

Until I finally had the opportunity to receive treatment from a Headache Disorders specialist for Migraine, I had no idea about the role of IV therapy in Migraine treatment and prevention. But from my first visit to the out-of-state specialist, it was clear IV therapy was making a world of difference when I dealt with a Migraine that nothing else would touch.

There is no true Headache Disorders specialist in my area to provide much continuity of care between the out-of-town specialist and a local physician. But I was pleased to find that a local neurologist was open to my suggestion of IV therapy for the thankfully rare occasions when I am unable to get relief from a Migraine attack utilizing the medications and techniques available to me at home.

It’s amazing the piece of mind that immediately set in once I had this arrangement in place. During business hours, the local neurologist and his staff can get me set up with a space in the infusion center at the local hospital. They have a great set up with recliners in private rooms, allowing the staff to close the door and shut off the lights while I receive my infusion. Outside business hours, heading to the ER is anxiety free because they can provide me with the same treatment protocol. It’s not as quiet or peaceful, but I can’t complain knowing how much worse other patients have it when they need after hours care.

I’ve learned through trial and error that some medications and combinations of medications are more effective for me than others. Finding the right options varies widely from person to person. An anesthetic medication called Ketamine, which I have been treated with at my former out-of-town specialist’s clinic, seems to work the very best for me. But it’s not widely used in humans and most doctors and clinics aren’t comfortable with it. It’s becoming more available all the time, but change is always slow. Fortunately, other options usually give me the relief I need to get that level 10 pain and unrelenting vomiting to a manageable enough level to go home and rest.

IV therapy isn’t the be all, end all, of course. While it works awesome for me and many other patients, it doesn’t work for everyone. But if you need an additional option to turn to when you’ve run through your bag of tricks, I recommend discussing this option with your specialist.

Have you used IV therapy for prevention or treatment? Please share your experiences in the comments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Shelly
    6 years ago

    I had an IV of DHE 2 months ago and it was a lifesaver. Everyone reacts differently to different meds. Thank goodness for anything that gives relief to any of us. The alternative sucks.

  • Amy
    6 years ago

    I use IV therapy for relief of intractable migraines. I have chronic migraines and about every 6-8 weeks get one that I can’t get rid of with my usual bag of tricks. I go to the outpatient center at my hospital and my neurologist sends down a wonderful combo of meds: Ativan Benedryl Phenegren DHE Magnesium Decadron Thorazine Torodol a seizure med and a med to narrow the brain blood vessels

    Poof! Migraine gone AND I often get up to 8 weeks relief from intractable migraines!

  • Diana-Lee author
    6 years ago

    Awesome, Amy! I’m so glad you have a great setup in place like I do. 🙂

  • TheKimberly75
    6 years ago

    Sorry, I messed up the last line of my last post… One more try:
    …2 weeks with weekly (?) follow-up treatments. There was also something said about only certain Drs being able to give the treatments, so I am more than as little bit confused.
    To the author, or anyone who’s had these treatments, can you spell out the procedure process and how it worked for you and what the practical conditions are? I’ve had Drs tell me of the advisability of an ER Protocol Letter before (which I’ve had for rescue meds for years!), but I also know, from too much experience, that not all Drs will follow them; they have their own bias’s and autonomy and seldom stray from “what they know” about current migraine treatment practices and want to try out on you, regardless of history and pain level! When I’ve had a migraine for three days and nothing I’ve done is working, by the time I Finally decide to seek ER rescue the Last thing I want to do is “try” new things they’ve read about! I just want it Gone! My experiences, of over 35 years of seeking treatment, tell me that Any ER visit is likely to be anxiety filled and far too contentious and I am Amazed whenever it’s Not! It Should Be a calming and pain relieving process, but invariably, that is seldom the case.

  • Diana-Lee author
    6 years ago

    One thing that worked for me before I saw a neurologist affiliated with my local ER was to ask the attending doc to call my physicians to discuss the options. It worked quite well for me, but, of course, sometimes ego takes over. Not a good thing!

    I ALWAYS bring my document outlining the names, addresses, phone numbers of all my doctors; my meds list; my history; etc. The nurses always love it, and it’s been a great way to show the attending doc I’m an educated patient.

  • Diana-Lee author
    6 years ago

    Ketamine is only used by doctors who feel comfortable administering it, so there are limited options right now for patients who’d like to try it out.

    I can only speak to my experiences with Ketamine, but one day of IV therapy made a WORLD of difference for me. I often did a second day since I’d traveled out of town to see my doctor anyway, though.

  • TheKimberly75
    6 years ago

    What I am wondering is, besides ketamine or DHE-45, what other meds are used for this type of lengthy IV course? How does it work? Is it used in reaction to a specific migraine in the ER, or as a preventative – or does it depend on other variables? I’ve heard the ketamine treatments are three times a week for two weeks LOL!!followed with

  • Diana-Lee author
    6 years ago

    I actually do not receive lengthy IV courses. Typically one session fixes me up.

    Other medications used include magnesium, anti-nausea meds (such as Phenergan or Zofran), steroids, Depacon, Lidocaine and a variety of other options depending on the physician who orders the IV.

    I hope this helps!

  • TheKimberly75
    6 years ago

    Agh! I messed up that last line and accidentally posted it!
    I’ll continue in a new comment…

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    I had DHE in march 2012 in Las Vegas , where I lived for 20 years…in patient..dr,Abraham Nagy….all I can say is it was 8 days of torture…migraines that were more severe than I could imagine..and still suffering from side effects today. I do t know anyone who had a good experience from I’ve treatment. If anyone is considering DHE…DON’T!!!!!!

    Glad it works for you.

    Blessings always
    Janet

  • Diana-Lee author
    6 years ago

    I’m so sorry you had a terrible experience with DHE, Janet.

    It’s important for us all to keep in mind that what seems like torture for one Migraineur can be incredibly helpful for another.

  • TheKimberly75
    6 years ago

    I too have been an out of state in-patient and on IV DHE-45 around the clock for several days in order to either stop one med and go on another under medical supervision, or to address a severe, stubborn, or lengthy and un-retractable migraine. At best, I’ve only ever had about a 60/40 success rate with DHE-45, and it is difficult to invest that much time in only one med with such a poor track record but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it. When it does work it works fairly well, and you’ll never know until you try it. Just make sure you’ve tried it at home first (or a few times), IM, to see if it will work for you before committing to a lengthly course and a hospital stay!

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