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Do you feel like you

Do you feel like you’ve tried everything?

“I’ve tried everything and nothing works for me.”

“This treatment is my last hope.”

“If X doesn’t work, there’s nothing else to help me.”

Have those thoughts ever crossed your mind? They certainly have mine, particularly in my early years of migraine treatment. After trying what seems like countless meds with no success or having yet another treatment fails, it can feel like you’ve hit a dead end.

Please take heart. Potential migraine treatments are so numerous that you almost certainly haven’t tried everything. If a doctor tells you you’re out of options, it means the doctor has exhausted their knowledge, not that there are no other treatments that might help you. It’s time to find a new doctor who knows more about migraine, preferably a headache/migraine specialist.

There are more than 100 prescription medications for migraine prevention. As Ellen has said on the forum, it would take more than 25 years to give each one an effective trial. Many drugs work best in combination with others, which gives you even more choices, though it also adds more rounds of testing. And some drugs that don’t work the first time you try them may work on a second try, especially if you’ve had any improvement in your migraine frequency, severity or duration between trials.

That’s just prescription medication. Even if you don’t want to take prescription preventives or are avoiding certain because of intolerable side effects or contraindications, you still have options, like herbs and supplements, acupuncture, physical therapy, Botox, biofeedback, neurofeedback, nerve blocks, nerve ablation, massage, yoga, cranial sacral therapy, nerve stimulation (implanted or external, like Cefaly), transcranial magnetic stimulation (which should be available to patients soon), food trigger identification and avoidance, exercise regimens, hypnotherapy, essential oils, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, self-care (or lifestyle changes) and others I’m sure I’ve left out. There are also less mainstream treatments, like digestive enzymes (which have literally changed my life), homeopathy, reiki, even crystal therapy.

It is so frustrating to try multiple treatments with little or no success. When another fails, it’s tempting to throw your hands up and say, “I’ve tried everything and nothing is ever going to help me.” After you blow off steam, remember there are so, so many treatment options available and you’ll never know what will work for you until you try.

This isn’t a meaningless pep talk from someone who doesn’t know what it’s like. I had daily migraine attacks for years that grew worse and worse until I was housebound and nearly bedridden. I wanted to give up many times – and took several long treatment breaks – but somehow managed to pull myself up and try yet again. I found my first helpful treatment two years ago, then found a couple more that are even more effective. I’m not migraine-free, but I feel great. With all the disappointment and grief along the way, the elation of having a migraine-free day is indescribable.

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

  • cyanne2ak
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you. As far as CGRPs, they didn’t work well and the savings program only covers 3-4 injections if insurance refuses to pay. My insurance refuses botox as well, even though I flat out DO meet their requirements, have continuously fought with them for benefits and they pay constant emergency care bills. The emergency care doctors NEVER listen. Last night they gave me steroids which I CANNOT have. But they did it anyway, sending me into DKA.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi @cyanne2ak

    So glad you wrote back.

    Very sorry that the CGRPs didn’t work well for you. The Aimovig was a bust for me as well, but the Emgality is having some impact. Did you try more than one of the CGRPs? Your insurance flat out refuses all the CGRPs? It could be that one of them requires a pre-authorization from your physician. I’m not at ALL meaning to push an idea on you- as I’ve had people do that to me a million times over. Sometimes I’m just plain tired of trying and need a break from that part of the cycle. So, take or leave the thought of pursuing a pre-auth depending on what you’re feeling up for. However, if you ARE feeling open to ideas, I thought I’d also mention that botox currently also has a savings program- one that I partake in as well (in addition to the Emgality savings program which I could only access with my doctor’s pre auth)… the Botox savings program is a reimbursement program: https://www.botoxsavingsprogram.com/SavingsandEnrolling. You sound very knowledgeable on migraine so you probably already know all about this, but I thought I’d share it with you just in case.

    So sorry to hear that you had to go to the ER for migraine management. It’s a nightmare of a place to be while experiencing an attack. I’m also sorry that they gave you precisely what you did NOT need. How awful. I think I understand DKA to be a fluid replacement therapy- is that right? Did that provide any relief at all? Does anything help when you hit a migraine storm like this? I find I get to a point when everything just feels swollen and the cycle feels so difficult to break. If you can’t use steroids to break that cycle, what has helped in the past? Are you able to sleep at all or is the pain too high for that as well?

    Thinking of you so often. – Holly

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator
    4 weeks ago

    @cyanne2ak– thank you for helping me understand more fully what you’re up against. I’m about to have to switch to another health insurance and as I do research on the options, it’s terrifying. I’m preparing to go bankrupt. Do you feel like you have a good partner in your migraine specialist? More importantly, how are you feeling today? I’m on day four of a really severe one with lots of nausea and vomiting. Super fun stuff. Still- I wanted to hop online to check in with you. Wish I could transport us to sit on the same couch and visit for a bit (sans the vomit…). Thinking of you. If you’re up to it, please let me know how you are.

  • cyanne2ak
    4 weeks ago

    The botox savings program only pays a max of $5000. One treatment is $2700, so it’s pointless. My insurance did not pay even after preauthorizing it. Same thing happened with CGRPs. It’s purely a scam and the treatments just don’t work very well. Botox gives me 6-12 extra pain free hours per month. $2700 isn’t worth it. As for DKA, no it is Diabetic Ketoacidosis and is deadly.

  • cyanne2ak
    4 weeks ago

    Truth here: NOTHING WORKS. EVER. I have, quite literally, tried it ALL. Suicide is The Only option to end migraine pain. CGRPs are an expensive joke, as is botox.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator
    4 weeks ago

    @cyanne2ak– Just wanted to check back in to say I’m thinking of you today. I’m having a tough migraine today- day three. It’s definitely rough – I’m sitting on my couch and trying to get comfort from my dog. You are on my mind, truly. It strangely helps me to know there are others out there who are finding their way. I’m with you, honestly. Please keep reaching out. We’re here for you. – Holly

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi @cyanne2ak– So glad you spoke up here honestly on such an important topic. When we are battling such severe and relentless pain, we can lose perspective as to the importance of life. Due to this fact, it’s important to know that there is a suicide hotline available 24/hours a day by phone 1-800-273-8255 and also available by online chat here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

    Hitting a wall of feeling low and/or hopeless can be a normal part of migraine, and depression is a frequent comorbid condition of migraine. For these reasons it is important to ensure that we have support in our lives to help navigate the lows: https://migraine.com/living-migraine/turn-corner-when-feeling-down/

    Lastly, you are right that the new CRGP treatments are expensive, however most of them have a one-year savings program to make them either free or affordable. Hopefully in the near future, insurers will come around to make these drugs affordable. Many migraine advocates in the field are working hard on this issue.

    In the meantime, we are here, anytime, to provide support, guidance and information. You are among a large community of people living with migraine who are navigating similar terrain. Please reach out and stay in touch and know we are thinking of you.

  • cyanne2ak
    4 weeks ago

    I’ve tried EVERYTHING. I’ve been on more than 30 preventive meds. I’ve even done hyperbaric oxygen and acupuncture. I’ve done TMS. I’ve done nerve blocks. I’ve done physical therapy, which was an absolute disaster. I’ve done CGRPs. I’ve done triptans, ergotamines, opiates, OTC meds. I’m OUT of options and have no money to pay for anything that insurance refuses to cover. Botox doesn’t work very well and is $2700 per treatment out of pocket. There’s nothing new.

  • cyanne2ak
    4 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, I always get the same canned response. People deserve honesty. In fact, I just got out of the urgent care WHO CLAIMED THEY HAD ZERO MEDS. Treated like an addict, yet again. Screw that. It’s NOT worth it to even try anymore. People need to know the truth: there is NO winning this battle. You’ll be in pain 24-7 with NO HELP and NO RELIEF.

  • Lawrence moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi @cyanne2ak. I feel your frustration! You are far from being alone in feeling this way. I am sorry that you experienced this type of treatment at the urgent care center. Do you still need help this evening? The truth is, at one point in time, there were limited options available to those living with migraine, and we are just now reaching a point where there is an explosion of new treatments available.

    Although I am not a medical professional, and I honestly can’t give you medical advice. I am here to be of help in any way that I can. Our responses are not meant to be canned; we just want to make sure that you are safe and out of harm’s way. The entire migraine.com community is here for you, and I will continue to be, as well! Continue to reach out to us.

    The new drugs are designed to help prevent and reduce the severity of migraine symptoms. In no way am I trying to minimize your everyday struggle of living with debilitating pain. You have a right to speak up, you have a right to be angry! Just know that I am here for you, and also, that we have reached a point in time where the treatment options are also available for you as well. We have a lot of resources to share. However, first, we do want to make sure that you are aware of them. Then we would love for you to continue speaking with your headache specialist and discuss your needs, and ask for more options that are available to you. Here is a list, and they are far from all of the currently available options, “It would be a lot for you to read in one comment”. Let us know which ones you have tried, and which ones you have not. Consider sharing those that you have not with your medical provider as well!

    For instance, there are acute migraine treatments aka “abortive treatments” that include:
    *Triptans
    *NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    *DHE 45
    *Ergotamines (https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/ergotamine/)
    *Analgesics Nasal sprays
    *Lasmiditan

    Then there are preventive or “prophylactic” prescription medications that include:
    *Calcitonin-gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors
    *Beta-blockers
    *Calcium channel blockers
    *Antidepressants
    *Neuronal stabilizing agents or anticonvulsants

    Finally, there are even:
    *Nerve stimulators
    *Over-the-counter medication
    *Natural remedies (herbal treatments, biofeedback, chiropractic)

    Just to name a few.

    I am including a few links that will give you more information about all of the treatments listed above, and more:

    *Acute ‘Abortive’ treatments: https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/migraine-medication-relief/

    *Preventative ‘prophylactic’ treatments: https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/prevention-medications/

    *Over-the-counter: https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/migraine-otc-drugs/

    *Complimentary & alternative therapies: https://migraine.com/complimentary-and-alternative-therapies/

    All in all, we are here for you, and although it may be frustrating, and sometimes completely defeating, know that we will continue to keep checking in on you! All I ask is for you to keep trying, and don’t give up! You deserve to be without pain!

    Sending you my absolute best and ample healing prayers and hugs! -Lawrence (Migraine.com Team)

  • tony46
    3 years ago

    After one full year of head pain my wife was referred to the only clinic in the country specializing in migraine head pain located in Ann Arbor, Mich. They made a diagnosis and admitted her to their hospital and are treating her inpatient with meds one of which is DHE migraine. They looked at an MRI of her neck and she is getting C-2 injections. She is on an IV. She has gotten injections inthe back of her head. After a year of terrible pain on the left side of her face and head she is nearly pain free. She is expected to be discharged this Friday pain free with a maintenance plan for the physicians to follow in Atlanta. This clinic is solving patients’ head pain. My wife has been talking to other patients there from all over the country and they report the same pain relief.

  • seagypsy
    3 years ago

    I’m so happy for your wife!

  • Jessica Madore
    4 years ago

    What’s really frustrating is when your doctor tells you the one treatment you need is the one your insurance won’t pay for and you can’t afford. I have lots I could & should try but I can’t pay for them on a disability budget and medicare/medicaid. That’s what all these articles leave out of the discussion. I can’t be homeless and starve just to get Botox now can I? Hmmmppphh! So tired of my insurance telling me they won’t pay for the meds my doctor wants to use or try that he’s given up and why shouldn’t I give up too? They already took away one I’ve been successful with for more than 4 years and set me back and all they can say is sorry find an alternative that works but there is none. I wish the heads of these insurance companies who make these policies would suffer migraines and then make decisions on what’s covered or not. I bet they would change their tune then! Sorry for the rant but it really makes me mad when the issue that I know a ton of us deal with never gets mentioned and that’s how to get help when your insurance won’t cover the medications or treatments??? What option or hope do I have then?

  • Teresa
    4 years ago

    I have to admit that I was one of the people who thought that I had tried pretty much everything. Of course, it was a pretty long list. I have low blood pressure so that takes out about half of the preventative meds right there. I have tried all of the well known prophylactic meds and the only meds that worked at all had horrible side effects. I tried Botox and Cefaly, neither of which worked for me. My neuro had exhausted his knowledge when I decided to try something. I had started peri-menopause and my body had been going through some very strange changes (like new allergies even), so I asked my neuro to start over and put me back on Topamax, even though it had not worked for me in the past. He agreed, but also kept me on Robaxin which I had been on for stiff muscles in my neck, which gave me back of the head migraines. It took a couple of months to take hold, but now, between the two meds, I have had the fewest migraine days this month than I have had in more years than I can remember. So never give up hope. And remember, things do change, even our bodies. Something that didn’t work before, might work at a different time, or in combination with a different drug.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    6 years ago

    Janet & Nonster,

    Our bodies naturally make digestive enzymes to help digest foods. Some people are deficient in certain enzymes and find relief from a variety of symptoms by taking supplemental enzymes (which, depending on the enzyme, can be derived from plants, foods (usually papaya and pineapple), fungi, or animals).

    For someone who has a food intolerance that triggers migraines, they may be able to better tolerate the food if they take digestive enzymes when they eat. It’s possible to have a food intolerance and not even know that’s what’s triggering (at least some of) your migraines.

    Reading my experience with the digestive enzyme diamine oxidase might help you understand the connection: http://migraine.com/blog/the-migraine-food-trigger-youve-probably-never-heard-of/. DAO is just one enzyme and histamine is just one type of food intolerance.

    In addition to DAO, I’ve started a broader enzyme called Similase. I know someone has found relief with one called M7. There are a lot of different ones out there and it can be complicated to figure out which one — if any — will work for you. I’m generally sensitive to plant material, so my naturopath recommended Similase made by Integrative Therapeutics or Digestive Enzymes Ultra made by Pure Encapsulations. I was able to buy them at the local naturopathic college, but they’re available online as well.

    I hope this helps. If you have a naturopath or dietician, I recommend working with them to try to find the right one for you.

    Kerrie

  • seagypsy
    3 years ago

    I have to agree with Jessica above. I would love to try Naturopathy, but my insurance doesn’t cover it. I m so nauseous, that I stopped eating almost everything and lost 60 pounds​. I have had migraines for 23 years, and an intractable phase for the last 10 months. I won’t get into all the symptoms, but I lost my job and have been housebound. I tried to commit suicide two weeks ago from the depression. A doctor in the facility I was in had an experimental treatment at $1,100 per day, for 3 days that he “knew” would work. I finished it last Wednesday. It is called NAD and has some success in treating chronic migraine. I was cautiously optimistic.

    My nausea and vertigo were gone and the level 10 headache was down to a 5.5 when I left his office Wednesday afternoon. Thursday and Friday, so far, so good. Yesterday I woke up to an 8 with all my symptoms back. I bawled until I couldn’t cry anymore. $3,300 down the drain that insurance won’t cover, but I was willing to risk. Now, I still have to pay and there is nothing to show for the 21 hours I spent hooked up to an IV.

    I know there are other treatments available, but how do I find the money to travel where they are? Portland, OR is not the migraine study capital of the US. I’m done, worn out, and ready to give up. I’m not able to think straight any longer, my memory is going and I am of no use to my family like this. I am going to lose my house because of medical bills and a stupid neurological disease! Two doctors, three neurologists, and a neurosurgeon with perfect MRI’s and CT scans. So many preventative meds and triptans, food diaries, review of triggers, massage, physical therapy, etc., I’m sick to death of telling my story. I’ve had acupuncture and it helped the neck and shoulder pain. My insurance won’t cover it; lucky me I got while I was in the mental facility. I’d love to try it again; no money for it out if pocket.

    Yes, I’m pissed off and feeling sorry for myself at the moment. I feel entitled to right now. I cannot wait another four or five years to have someone help me figure this out. I will go stark raving mad! There are so few resources for us migraineurs. We have to muddle along as we go making it all happen. It’s really difficult when you are in pain.

  • Traci
    5 years ago

    I also have trouble with plant based products, so I will check out the Similase. I see you wrote this two months ago. Are you still using the Similase?

  • Anne
    6 years ago

    Thank you for the article – I have tried so many things, some have helped to lessen the severity and some have made me feel worse. I’m currently on my second round of Botox (injected by a neurologist) – which is helping. It definitely helps with the in-between days, when I’m not at full blown migraine, but have that migraine exhaustion and dizziness. I have actually been able to work out regularly again and am only getting about 2 migraines a week (which is a big improvement). I also like Relpax – that helps a lot. Over the counter medications don’t work for me at all. I cut out gluten, dairy, sugar/artificial sweeteners, soy, corn and alcohol – which seems to lessen the severity. I’ve done yoga therapy, acupuncture, epsom salt baths, etc. I’m currently trying remote healing and reiki – I’m not a huge believer in that stuff, but I’m also open to anything that can give me relief.

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    Kerrie
    Digestive enzymes were recommended for me also by a place where I purchased essential oils…which I now purchase directly through the company. Can you elaborate on the digestive enzymes..please..

    Blessings
    Janet Jones

  • kimberlyflick
    6 years ago

    My frustration lies in the fact that I can’t take time off of work or, if I do, I’ve often felt that I’m causing burdens on others.
    I just convinced my doctor to give me a prescription for Migranal and I’m just praying it works. But I don’t have a desire to return to this so-called “headache specialist” because he is very dead set on his idea of treatment.
    Also, I get so tired after a day’s work. How do you guys handle it? Do others still work or do you eventually just have to give up? There are times I feel like I’m going to have to throw in the towel.

  • Karen
    6 years ago

    Hi Kimberly, I worked this way for many many years and yes I dealt with the guilt of being out of work for a day and then working extra hard afterwards to make up for it.
    And yes I was exhausted especially after those days of throwing up all day and it was so hard to drag myself back to work the next day.
    It was not so back when I was in my twenties and this only happened once a week or so but as they became more and more frequent I did finally have to throw in the towel as far as work was concerned. As of 2010 I have not worked and thought the lack of stress would help, but I still have migraines 5-7 days a week. Even though I don’t work and spent a large portion of my life in bed, It doesn’t mean I don’t continue to try to find a migraine solution.
    I live for those migraine free days – I call them my Vacation days!! I celebrate a day just feeling normal!!

  • Karen
    6 years ago

    I’m feeling all of your pain and know exactly what you are going through. I have felt this so many times over the years, I have lost count. I started getting migraines at age 12 and I will be 49 in about a month so that makes 37 years of migraines of which the past 10 have been chronic. I have been unable to work for the past 5 years due to migraine frequency and severity. Of the list, there are only two things I have not tried – transcranial magnetic stimulation, because it hasn’t been approved by insurance for migraine yet and nerve stimulation which will be the next thing I try if the second treatment of nerve radio-frequency ablation doesn’t work. I have seen doctors from coast to coast and have tried every holistic and Eastern medicine treatment you listed. But, is it an exhaustive list?? There are so many days when I feel it is and so many days when I want to give up hope because I have so few days without pain. Luckily I have an amazing support system in my husband who pushes me to continue to keep looking even when I want to stop and give up. Even if the solution is not here today, it might be tomorrow.

  • Tripp
    6 years ago

    The only preventive that did work for me, I had to stop taking because it was messing up my kidney. It is very frustrating

  • Nonster
    6 years ago

    Kerrie, I am interested in the digestive enzymes. Please tell more about them as I’ve never heard of them in migraine treatment. Thanks!

  • Michele Harris
    6 years ago

    So many people are saying the same thing – that nothing works; we do know that there are some new options out there that work for some, but not for everyone. In this past year alone we have seen a prophylactic headband (prescription needed) and a homeopathic nasal spray (no prescription needed) containing capsicum annuum – both of which are getting good reviews by many users. I wish you best of luck!

  • Sonya
    6 years ago

    I had forgotten all about the nasal spray. (I have a horrible memory, I wonder if its all the drugs!)I ordered the spray the moment I got the article from Migraie.com. I DO NOT want to discourage anyone else because REALLY everyone responds differently to everything out there. But the promotional information on the spray says that there is “a burn feeling similar to when you get water in your nose.” It also says that with continued use you adjust to it and no longer get the burn. The first time I used it I didn’t feel the spray so I thought I hadn’t “primed” it enough and I pumped a second time. The burn starts 10-15 seconds later and OMG! it was very painful and lasted 20 minutes or more. My husband was downstairs at the time and I shut the door so he would not hear me yelling! After that every time I got a headache he asked why I wasn’t using it, I really did not want to experience that again unless I was desperate. But I kept telling myself it might not be as bad if I only spray once like you are supposed to do. But desperation day came and I sprayed carefully, only once. And again I will say OMG!!!! it was worst than the worst migraine you can imagine. Again it lasted more than 20 minutes, I was here alone and yelling the entire time! Its not like you can wash the stuff out, it does say you can blow your nose after a period of time but it does not get rid of that awful pain. I was wondering if this site would have a “support group” of sorts like the one on the Cefaly; I have learned a lot from those posts.
    Again I will say that I don’t want my experience to keep anyone from trying it! Like I said in my last post, I had horrible side effects from Botox; it was as if I’d had a stroke and it lasted about 4 months. But many, many others have found much relief from Botox. Likewise, I met a lady who’d had 3 strokes in one day from Maxalt and BEGGED me to stop taking it. But I didn’t because it was helping me at the time.
    God bless all of you who are living on this terrible rollercoaster ride called migraine disease. Someday they may find the answers, but I think the reason it’s so difficult to do is that the answers are not the same for all of us.

  • Sonya
    6 years ago

    I DO feel like ‘ve tried everything although I know there’s always more like you said. I would really like to completely de-tox! I tried to get the nuero-stimulator (implant)but was turned down by insurance, now I count that as a blessing because of all the follow-up surgeries and complications. Botox gave me horrible side effects plus didn’t help. I wish I could do bio-feedback but no-one locally offers it. I’ve done I before years ago up at Diamond Headache Clinic. I do have my prescription for the Cefaly and can’t wait to get that. My “migraine specialist” so listed on this web-site, I had one appointment with. I called yesterday for a refill on one of my meds, today I get a CERTIFIED LETTER from him saying he called in the prescription for one month and he can no longer be my doctor!!! No explanation whatsoever!! I will check out your specialist list again.

  • kimberlyflick
    6 years ago

    Whoa! Hope you find a better doctor!

  • Sara
    6 years ago

    Hi Kerrie! I so enjoy your writing! I know I have not tried everything yet, although I had this conversation with my husband last night (what if the botox doesn’t work? You’ve tried everything?) to explain to my husband that my migraines have not even been chronic very long. I am switching headache specialists in October and he believes it is time to start exploring other causes as well (Family history of MS). I agree I should probably have updated scans since I haven’t had any in years and I have several new symptoms since my migraines became chronic but I worry about he will react if my diagnosis remains “just” chronic migraine.

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