Chronic Migraine Creates a Breeding Ground for More Health Challenges
Last updated: September 2023
I’ve had migraine for 45 years, the last 20 of them chronic, and yet I’m still learning how to manage this condition. Recently, I’ve experienced several incidents which illustrate how chronic migraine can create a breeding ground for additional health issues.
How is migraine more than a bad headache?
The belief that migraine is just a bad headache is a wild misconception. Migraine is a complex neurological disease. Severe head pain is just one of its many symptoms. The condition shows itself in a myriad of ways, including nausea and vomiting, eye, hair, skin, and sound sensitivity, clumsiness, and brain fog, among countless others. There are truly too many symptoms to list here.
How do comorbid conditions add complexity?
In addition to migraine symptoms, comorbid conditions, like depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia, frequently accompany migraine. For those of us living with multiple conditions and everything that comes with them, we are also juggling multiple treatment protocols (and medications, as well as the side effects that accompany those medications).
How do medications add complexity?
A complicating factor that comes with chronic migraine relates to the medications we take to manage migraine. The preventative and rescue treatments can sometimes come with a tricky list of side effects including drowsiness, constipation, and nausea. These medication side effects are, at times, so hard to manage that they compete in difficulty with the migraine symptoms they are intended to treat.
How is chronic migraine any different?
When we live with migraine chronically, we encounter challenges related to managing the aforementioned symptoms and side effects on a prolonged basis. Being in severe pain for hours to days to weeks on end results in its own list of physical complications that only become more compounded with time. There is wear and tear on the body that occurs when it is responding to relentless complex neurological symptoms and severe pain every day.
How has it wreaked havoc on my body?
After navigating chronic migraine for over two decades, there are numerous ways chronic migraine has wreaked havoc on my body:
- I lost a wisdom tooth due to the frequent vomiting that accompanies migraine (one of my primary symptoms).
- I have extreme muscle knots and soreness in my neck and shoulders due to the way I pull my shoulders up to my ears while in pain on a daily basis. These knots and my overall resulting posture trigger new attacks.
- During a particularly rough 3-week-long intractable attack, I ran out of anti-nausea medication. Instead, I tried to lay very still to keep myself from vomiting. Any motion was making me sick. I was terrified of vomiting, as doing so made the head pain much worse. I lay still for one full day and into the night and held my bladder out of fear of vomiting. By the next day, I’d worked my way into a urinary tract infection. I would’ve laughed at the insane calamity of symptoms, but I was too busy crying.
How do I cope?
We all have our lists that outline the ways that migraine has caused multiple additional challenges in our bodies. It truly does feel like a domino game and a hard cycle to break when the attacks keep coming. Pushing against the urge to curl up due to the pain is hard but important when possible. Daily walks are a must for me. Using massage tools on my neck, taking baths to help my body when it’s sore from being in bed for days and keeping hydrated are all key and easier said than done.
In the comment section below, we invite you to share ways that migraine has caused a domino effect in your body. How have side effects, comorbid conditions, and symptoms collided and complicated matters for you? How do you handle this reality when it happens? Have you found ways to offset this dynamic? We’d love to learn from you!
In the past year, has insurance made it difficult to get your migraine treatment?