Migraine Term of the Day: Preventive Medication

Patient Expert

When we're looking at Migraine and headache information, whether it's from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing.

Sometimes, it's easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term. At other times, substituting just doesn't convey quite the same meaning or takes more than a few words.

Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, I'll be posting a "term of the day," probably a couple of times a week. If there are terms you'd like to have defined, please leave a comment to let me know what it is.

Today's term: Preventive Medication.

Preventive medications are taken daily to reduce the frequency and severity of Migraine attacks and headaches. Most doctors recommend preventive medications if you average one Migraine a week or more.

There are four medications that are FDA approved for the prevention of Migraine:

  1. propranolol (brand name Inderal)
  2. timolol (brand name Blocadren)
  3. divalproex sodium (brand name Depakote, Depakote ER)
  4. topiramate (brand name Topamax)

There are many other medications (more than 100 total) that are being used effectively for Migraine prevention. It's quite common for medications to be prescribed for conditions other than those for which they were first developed. This is called off-label prescribing.

You can read more about preventive medications in: