Solving Migraine: Creating a Protocol vs Seeking a Cure
Last updated: December 2022
Those of us living with migraine are desperate for relief. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. That said, over the years, more and more treatments have been created that address the condition.
What were medications created for?
As recently as a decade ago, most medications prescribed for migraine were originally designed to treat other conditions and only later found to also help with symptoms of migraine. Medications created to address blood pressure, seizures, depression, and cosmetic issues were incidentally found to improve migraine symptoms but did not address the root cause of the disease.
What about CGRPs?
Indeed, it was only as recently as 2004 that researchers began to more fully understand that overproduction of a certain protein plays a role in migraine. In response to this information, a new class of drugs, called CGRPs, were introduced in 2018 that block said protein and have proven to be effective for many in reducing both the frequency and intensity of attacks. Still, it’s not a cure for the condition.
Are we seeking a quick fix?
When we go through the demanding process of trying new treatments, we often tend to quickly give up on medications if they don’t completely stop the attacks altogether. This is the case because these medications frequently come with side effects that can add to the overall load of challenges we face. Indeed, when treatments aren’t effective at putting an end to our suffering and instead add more issues to our already full plate, we are likely to say: “No thanks!” We then move on to the next potential solution and continue along with the exhausting trial and error process of auditioning new medications.
How can we set realistic goals for relief?
Instead of evaluating treatments based on their stand-alone efficacy, I would argue it’s important to consider ways they may work in concert with one another.
I believe that treating chronic migraine is about combining strategies that peel away one symptom at a time until the condition becomes more manageable. This realistic goal seeks to find a way to live more comfortably. Perhaps we can find one treatment to effectively address nausea, another to help with sleeping, one to regulate hormones, and on. Eventually, with time and experimentation, we find a combination of treatments (which hopefully do not come with heavy-handed side effects) that work together to quiet our symptoms sufficiently enough for us to experience life because migraine is not so loud.
What is my treatment protocol?
As I live with chronic migraine and my attacks are stubborn, my treatment protocol is multi-tiered and includes a combination of preventatives and rescue medications. And even still, my migraine condition remains stubborn and daily in nature. Admittedly, piling on treatments and medications is surely not ideal, but it beats the alternative, which for me, is a life sidelined and bedridden. Finding a combination of treatments has assisted me with lowering the severity and frequency of my attacks, and that is a good goal for me.
Constantly evaluating & improving my approach
Creating this protocol has taken years of trial and error and auditioning more medications than I care to count. And that process continues. For example, with the addition of a new preventative, it’s a good idea to experiment with removing an existing preventative in hopes that one can replace another.
How about you? In the absence of a cure, have you found success in combining treatment strategies? If so, and if you’re comfortable, we invite you to share what works for you in the comment section below so that we can learn from one another.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?