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A Look at Retreat Migraine from a First Timer

First off, I did not know that there was a conference dedicated to migraine and headache disorders. I found out through Migraine.com about Retreat Migraine. It is an excellent conference for those with migraine. It is beneficial for clinicians as well. The conference is about all things headache and migraine related. This was the fifth year for Retreat Migraine. 2023’s conference was held in Minneapolis, MN from May 5-7. There was just so much to take in. This conference is held by the Coalition of Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP). One can go to the CHAMP website or Google Retreat Migraine, to look for conference information.

How did I attend Retreat Migraine?

I did not attend the conference in person. I was glad to see that they had a virtual option. For those that do not do well with lots of stimulus, this was perfect! Also, if low on funds, attending virtually, would still allow one to participate. I did enjoy having option of virtual or in-person.

Through the Webex Events App, I was able to check out daily announcements, pick my agenda (live topics) that I wanted to watch, and see those who would be speaking. There was even an attendee’s tab, help desk, and a place to see all the CHAMP participants. I found out that there were so many migraine associations out there.

What sessions were at the conference?

There were sessions everyday that covered a multitude of topics. I did not watch every live stream. The good thing is, all of this will be available to attendees for two months. There were speakers such as mental health and headache specialists, those who do alternative pain therapy, other doctors and patient advocates. Out of all the speakers, there was one that I already was familiar with, as I follow her posts on LinkedIn.

Session #1

One session that I signed up for was “Introduction to Migraine Disease.” This was split into three parts. Part one was on prescription medications for migraine. The second part was alternative therapies, and a third was about what to take and when. Even though I knew a lot of this information, I felt there would be something new to learn. I had never heard of intranasal DHE (dihydroergotamine). I do not do well with most pills. Knowing I have other options for migraine treatment, is key.

Session #2

Another one that I tuned in to watch was “Cannabis 101.” I was interested in knowing what they would say and how could it help. I was clueless about this topic. I did find out some valuable things. I learned that we had an endocannabinoid (ECS) system in our body. Wow! This system helps regulate many functions in the body such as pain, eating, and inflammation. There is much information out there about it, including sites such as the National Institutes of Health.

I learned about differences in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Each of these are used for different things when discussing medical cannabis. According to the speaker, Stephanie Standal, MD (University of Minnesota), both bind to the cannabinoids in our body to increase appetite, decrease pain, and increase mood and sleep. The condition that a person has, determines which would be best. There are THC dominant, CBD dominant and THC/CBD combination medical cannabis. For migraine, the preferred is the THC/CBD combined one.

There are steps that must be taken to qualify for medical cannabis. Every state has its own qualifications. It is currently legal in 38 states. I do not know if this is something that I would ever consider, but it is something that is out there.

Session #3

Another topic of interest to me was the “A Pain in My Neck: Cervicogenic Headache.” I found this very informative. The speaker talked about the spinal anatomy, the definition of this type of headache and nerves involved.

Cervicogenic headaches are more common in women. I know that I have issues with my neck such as stiffness and bulging discs. I have had blocks in my neck, as well as ablations. That is something that can be done to help with these headaches. No one has ever truly diagnosed me with these, but after this conference, I am thinking this is another type of headache that I deal with.

What were in-person participants offered?

For the in-person participants, there was a few other things that were offered. They had an area that was designated as scent-free!! There were different giveaways, an auction, yoga, and sponsor booths. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to go to the pajama party. Virtual participants had a Zoom pajama party also, but in-person is always so much fun.

What was in the swag box?

Even though I was a virtual participant, I was able to get swag items in the mail. This was great! I received it about a week before the conference. Some items that I truly loved were:

  • Tummy Gummies
  • Passion Journal (12-month paper life coach)
  • Weather X Earplugs
  • Purple Shades for Migraine
  • Vogmask

I highly recommend if you have never attended, to try it out. This was my first Retreat Migraine, but definitely not my last. Next year, I plan to attend in person and see how different it is from the virtual. I hope to see you there!

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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.

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