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Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

The Next Step

  • By Amanda

    I am 32 and have had migraines since I was 17. My junior year of high school I was in a car accident. Our car was rear ended at a stoplight. A bunch of nerves and muscles in the right side of my neck was torn. I was told then that my normal every day headaches would be worse. The doctor explained that a regular headache that any one else would rate as a 1 or 2, mine would be a 4 or 5. Not the case. My “normal every day headache” was a 9 or 10.

    I have spent the past 6 years going through physical therapy, having cat scans, MRIs, MRAs, blood tests, med changes, and doctors. I was put on imitrex along with my celexa which i take for anxiety. The imitrex worked great but was only allowed 10 pills a month. When you have migraines 5 to 6 days a week 10 pills dont last long. I was then switched to toprimate. It slowed my migraines down to an average of 3 a week for the first couple of months. Now I am back to my usual 5 or 6. I have had to quit working outside the home and am now babysitting in my home which is a challenge when you live almost every day in pain.

    I was told a year ago that I have “a chronic migraine condition” and was sent to a headache and pain specialist. This so called specialist who is located approx. 2.5 hours from where I live was a joke. He put me through the same tests I had already had done (which he knew had been done because of my 7 inch thick pile of medical records in his lap), went over my meds and pretty much told me there was nothing visibly wrong and they couldn’t do anything else.

    I am exhausted all the time and my brain literally feels like it’s going to explode every second of every day. I am always on edge and on the verge of ripping everyone’s head off. My anxiety is through the roof and I am constantly having anxiety attacks. The pain in my head has sent me into a downward spiral and I just want my body to be able to relax.

    So what’s the next step?

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi amandapetitt,

    Welcome to the discussion forum! We are so happy to have you here. I am however, sorry you are in such pain. It’s true an injury to our neck can really impact our heads, especially if we already are prone to migraine. Let me see what information I can give you to help you out.

    The next step may be to see a true migraine/headache disorder expert. I see you mentioned you saw ‘headache and pain specialist’ but I wonder if he was a true migraine/headache expert. There is a big difference between a ‘headache and pain specialist’ and a true migraine/headache expert. A headache and pain specialist may claim to be an expert in migraine and headache disorders because they treat so many patients with headache and migraine, but that may not be the case. Doctors who are truly migraine/headache disorder specialists have extra board certification in headache medicine whereas all neurologists do not. Does that make sense? Let me share information with you on what makes these doctors so special and then how to find one; https://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/ and https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/.

    Let’s talk about triggers. Do you happen to know what any of yours are? If we are able to identify and manage (the ones we can) our triggers we may be able to reduce our migraine frequency. Migraine triggers include but are not limited to certain foods, dehydration, not maintaining a regular sleep schedule, alcohol, smoking, fluctuating hormones and others. Here is information on triggers; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-trigger-management/.

    The best way to figure out what our triggers and patterns are is to keep a migraine diary. If you haven’t kept a detailed diary in a while, I would encourage you to do so. This information is about keeping a diary https://migraine.com/blog/keeping-migraine-diary-basics/ and Migraine.com has the Migraine Meter you may be interested in taking a look at; https://migraine.com/migraine-meter/. It really is easier than ever with all the apps out there!

    By any chance to you take something every day or close to every day to help relieve your pain? it is very easy to get caught up in this pattern, but is not good for our heads. If we take migraine medications (Imitrex, Maxalt and so on) and/or pain relievers, whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, more than two to three days a week we run the risk of getting something called medication overuse headache, moh which was formerly called rebound. Moh is no joke; I’ve been there and it’s not fun, but can be handled. AND if we are in an moh cycle our migraines will be more difficult to treat and we can end up in a daily cycle of endless pain that too will be hard to treat. As unpleasant as moh is, it can really impact our migraines. Here is information on moh; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    I’ll stop now so I don’t overwhelm you any longer!
    Keep us posted on how you are feeling,

    Nancy

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  • By Amanda

    Hi Nancy

    Thank you so much for the info. I am trying to get into a different migraine/headache specialist. My regular moved to a new facility so I’m being faced with a new doctor that doesn’t believe I have a true “migraine disorder” as he calls it because of my previous injury to my neck. He is basically saying it’s a repercussion from the accident. So getting a referral is a trying task right now.

    I haven’t ever really been able to pin down a trigger other than weather and stress. I live in Missouri where we have all 4 seasons in one day. If it’s really dry and humid or cold and rainy they are more frequent and severe. I also have trouble with anxiety which causes a vicious cycle with migraines. I’m in pain from the migraine so my anxiety level goes up which causes the migraines to be worse, and it continues to cause anxiety attacks. It’s a never ending cycle. I do keep a diary of when I have them and what I’ve done that day, how long they last, the severity, what I tried to get relief, etc.

    I take toprimate twice a day every day as a preventative. As for pain medication I don’t take any on a daily basis. I have gotten to the point where I don’t take pain meds for my migraines because they don’t help. I only have pain meds when I go to the er (about once a month). I do what I can to get through the day with the pain until I get to the point where I physically and mentally can’t take it anymore. That’s where the er visit comes in just to get the relief.

    I have been to an optometrist to make sure it wasn’t my vision. Seen an orthodontist to make sure it wasn’t TMJ or anything. 4 MRIs on my head and neck in 1 year. An MRA to check the blood flow in the vessels in my head. Everything comes back normal.

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