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Anyone been hospitalized to break a migraine cycle?

  • By mary

    I have had this constant headache/migraine since June 10th. I have been to a neurologist that put me on a 2 week Medrol dose regimen…my primary dr who prescribed various triptans and Metropolol….and a pain specialist who gave me trigger point injections in my neck and shoulders, along with Tizanidine. I just started Topamax last week and am having lots of anxiety from it. My primary dr is talking about putting me in the hospital for a few days to try and “break the pain cycle”, and I wondered if anyone else has tried that and if so, what did they do for you while you there and did it actually help? Thanks in advance for your answers!

  • By Becky

    Yes, I have been hospitalized multiple times over my life for migraines. They usually give you “cocktails” every certain amount of hours and some docs will also give you pain meds by iv when you are in.

  • By The Migraine Girl Moderator


    You will certainly not be the first migraineur to be hospitalized for intractable migraine if you do indeed go that route. Below you’ll find a couple of articles you may find helpful. Most patients I’ve talked with have had significant relief after being hospitalized and/or getting IV therapy.

    Let us know how you’re doing and, if you do get hospitalized, how it goes. We’ll be thinking of you.

    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • By chebbot

    When I have a cycle I can’t break, I go to my local ED. They give me a fluids and a concoction of meds. The first couple times I went I feel like they treated me like a drug seeker, so now I have my doctor call ahead with instructions on what works for me. That way there’s no beating around the bush and trying things I know won’t work. I usually feel good enough to be discharged after 6 hours. Good luck!

  • By The Migraine Girl Moderator


    This is priceless advice! “The first couple times I went I feel like they treated me like a drug seeker, so now I have my doctor call ahead with instructions on what works for me. That way there’s no beating around the bush and trying things I know won’t work. ”

    Good for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    -Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

    • By Kelli

      I’ve had the same reaction from ED drs. I actually had a dr threaten to “red flag” me as a drug abuser and I have never abused drugs. Too bad my drs office will not call ahead they will just say “if the pain is that bad go to ED”.

  • By Jules2dl

    Hi mag1961;
    I’ve been hospitalized 3 times at the Diamond Headache Clinic’s Inpatient Unit in my home town of Chicago. They have a 3 day protocol which they follow, and which they can repeat up to 3 times. I was told I’d be in hospital for 3 to 4 days each time, but in fact my stays were 10, 11, and 12 days in length. When I was first admitted each time I received a very welcome injection of Dolophine (which I later came to find out was methadone). I also had an MRI, and had an IV inserted. DHE was given through the IV, and a whole host of other meds given through the IV or by injection. Other than anti nausea drugs, I have no idea what else I was given. I was drowsy or asleep most of the time. Diamond unit has classes every day which teach about various aspects of migraine, and biofeedback training every day.
    The first 2 times I was hospitalized were definitely very successful. The pain cycle was definitely broken and I was put on different meds which controlled my headaches better. The 1st time I went home with Lupron injections, which helped a lot. The 2nd time I had a facet block in hospital, which was also successful.
    The 3rd time was a waste of time, and I believe this was due to the fact that my primary doctor was out on sick leave and I was being seen by a physician assistant. The PA said she was following the treatment I’d been given on my last visit, but I tend to doubt this, as I’d spent the last visit mostly passed out, and this visit wide awake and in pain. I left after 12 days feeling exactly the same as I did when I was admitted.
    I have an appointment set up in October at the Jefferson Headache Clinic in Philadelphia, and am praying that they will admit me to their inpatient unit.
    This is my perspective on being an inpatient: every time I’ve been hospitalized I’ve been at a level of pain I could not tolerate. On a scale of 1-10, the pain was a 20. I’d have done anything, including slicing my wrists, to stop the pain. Now I’m not at that level of pain (thank God), but I’ve had a nonstop migraine since 1/30/2011.
    When you’re an inpatient on a headache unit, you have so much more available to you. More testing, more treatment, more supplemental support such as IV for hydration, IV magnesium, which helps some people, biofeedback, etc. I think it’s a good thing when you don’t respond to your normal rescue methods. Inpatient treatment will also get you out of medication overuse headaches. But here’s the kicker: In my opinion anyway, I think you need to go to an inpatient headache unit. Just as migraine patients should be seeing a headache specialist rather than a neurologist who treats headaches as wells MS, etc., if you’re considering an inpatient stint, find out if there’s an inpatient headache clinic nearby. At least talk to your doctor about your concerns. Ask specifically what treatments you will receive in hospital. See if it would be out of the question for you to go to Chicago or Philadelphia to Diamond or Jefferson Clinic, or if there’s a headache clinic close to where you live. I can’t really afford it, believe me, my house is in foreclosure. But at some point, you have to make your health a priority. I can’t live my life with a migraine every day.
    I wish you the best of luck, and the best of health ~

  • By Tammy Rome

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! So few migraineurs (and doctors, unfortunately) even know that inpatient stays for IV infusions are an appropriate treatment for refractory migraines. The more we talk about this, the more we spread the word.

    I had an inpatient stay last summer for refractory cluster headaches using Solu-Medrol and Toradol. They started out using Demerol, but it caused too much nausea.

    A friend of mine has had 2 inpatient stays this year for refractory migraine. The first time, she got Solu-Medrol and Demerol. This last time it was a week of DHE infusions.

    The good news is that we don’t have to stay home and suffer for days or weeks with unrelenting pain. There are options!

  • By Mary Butler Groom

    I have been hospitalized three times. I was admitted through the ER after they did everything they could there and I was still pushing off the 10 pain scale.
    I was given Imitrex injections, Dilaudid for pain, Ibuprofen for pain, Fioricet for pain. Zofran for nausea.
    it was a three day stay each time.

    I found relief and was able to go home.

  • By Paul Im

    ive been going to the Er to get this migraine problem treated frequently, in the beginning it was so intense that i would have pain for days straight so i go in the hospital and they did a ct and mri scan on my head and treated me with topamax and toridol but i ended up having tolerance to those. so they changed the medication to 8mg of dilaudid. as much as anyone here i would love to get this pain taken care of so i can live for once. its been about 2 years now. and now, even the hospital knows that how intense my pain is. despite of it, they labeled me as a drug addict. seriously, i find it ridiculous how they can do that do me. i mean its not like i want to go to the hospital and waste my veins everytime they poke me to give me pain meds. i have no where to turn to if the pain hits me out of nowhere. so i go to a different hospital and after 2 month they reject my visit. unless im like passed out from a heart failure or a stroke. sorry for the life story but i want to hear some advice from the community on what i should do.

  • By Paul Im

    I agree that is alot. But thats what they gave mein the beginning, but i dont know anything about medications and i have a history of stroke so i thiught it was what they gave to everyone that needed it. Plus did not tell me what i was getting in the first place. But i think i do need a pain management doctor. Im getting sick of getting called a drug addict. One hospital was actually making fun of me. When i was passed out because of health reasons. Even when my mother was with me. They were laughing and being obnoxious. Eventhough we who have or had health issues. Making fun of the patient who have health problem. And come in for pain medication. Making fun of them eventhough their family is with them and proceeding with that kind of action because the cant speak or out understand english. Just leaves me speechless.

    What do you guys think of that. Im curious what the community thinks

  • By Paul Im

    I should get a letter from my doctor when i end up in the er again. I clearly tell tylenol dont work on me and when i complain to them, they just get annoyed and discharge me and label me as a drug addict. I guess if that happens ill goto the patient relations and file a complaint.

    Thank you so much . it really helped me out alot. I should have signed up for this place long time ago

  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Jamie gave you a lot of great suggestions. Getting your doctor to give you orders to take with you to the ER can help tremendously. There are a number of drugs that the ER can give you to help break the cycle. Dilaudid gives you pain relief, but it doesn’t stop the Migraine. And Topamax is really used as a daily preventative, not as a one-time use.

    If you are still suffering, ask your doctor about getting orders for some of the following meds that are routinely used in the ER to break a cycle of headaches:

    Phenergan or Zofran for nausea
    Toradol as an anti-inflammatory
    Solumedrol or Decadron- or other steroid
    DHE- here’s info on this drug:
    And definitely a bag or two of fluids to rehydrate

    I’m not suggesting all of these meds at once, but talk to your doc about what may work for you.

    Also, what kind of doctor are you seeing for your Migraines? Since your condition seems to be getting worse, you definitely need to see a neurologist, but more importantly a Headache Specialist would help you more. This is a neuro who has a specific training to treat the over 300 headache disorders. They are best equipped to see you through a rough patch of Migraines and also to help prevent them. Here’s some more info on Headache Specialists:

    I hope this info helps. Let us know if you have any other questions!
    -Katie Moderator