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How to prevent tension headaches/migraines?

I have a few questions and any answers are appreciated.

First off: I have been told many different things by many different doctors. Some say I have tension headaches. Some say I have migraines. I get 6-8 headaches per month. Within’ 15 minutes they’re intense. NSAIDs are the ONLY thing that work. Within’ 15-20 minutes I’m a whole new person. Triptans work maybe 20% of the time or just buy me time. I rarely get nauseous. I am never sensitive to light and sound.

Starting a year ago, I wake up mid-sleep with a full blast headache every few months. I had a clear MRI July 2018. I have tried avoiding NSAIDS, in all ways! Especially now that I have GERD due to it. I have done trigger point injections, massages, peppermint oil, chiropractic appointments and adjustments, heat pad (this temporarily relieves pain sometimes), ice, Gammacare machine, stim machine, drinking 3-4 water bottles a day, exercising, meditating, Triptans, Propranalol, Topamax, Aimovig (which sent me to the ER) along with stress management and food diaries. I am not so convinced these are all migraines. Perhaps I have both.

Not sure why I can’t find anything else that at least minimizes my headaches. They’ve become more severe and more quickly at times too. I’m not worried about an underlying disorder as I’ve had migraines/headaches for 18 years.

I just hate when sometimes I need 3 advil instead of 2. Or when it comes back a few days in a row. All neurologists are saying the same thing. Try Emgality, try this new preventative, some people don’t respond to Triptans Any advice would be great. Ty!

  1. Hi MK2019,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You've mentioned you've had migraine/headache for 18 years. I wanted to let you know it's not uncommon for our migraine attack patterns and symptoms to change over time, mine certainly have. It's also not uncommon to have more than one type of headache disorder. For example I have migraine without aura and tension-type headache. And a tension-type headache can trigger a migraine attack.

    Waking with migraine pain may be an indication of a sleep issue, and not only sleep apnea. There are many, many different sleep issues that can trigger a migraine attack. I would encourage you to speak with your doctor about having a sleep study.

    Many of us use a combination of medications, devices, meditation, relaxation techniques, and supplements to manage our migraine attacks.

    I hope this helps!

    1. Thank you so much for your response. It is comforting to know that patterns can change as this new one has made me unsettled. I believe I have tension headaches that turn into migraine attacks. However, I am doing SO many things to prevent tension headaches and SO many things to get rid of them. Feeling hopeless about it.

      1. Hi MK2019,

        I found some relief through chiropractic treatment - especially in the area of neck tension. Might be worth trying if you haven't already!

        As for when the headaches/migraines come on, I'm not sure what would give immediate relief... Perhaps, alongside NSAIDS, try either a hot or cold compress. Ice packs help immensely for me in numbing the area!

        I hope you find some relief soon. Happy new year!

        1. Thanks so much. Chiropractor definitely helps at times to prevent. I go bi-weekly! Yes heat helps too. I just wish that these solutions could permanently settle a headache. NSAIDs have caused me to develop GERD.

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