In June 2017, giant posters proclaiming “Migraine is a Disabling Disease” decorated the pillars and hallways of the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston. The hotel also lit up the exterior in purple lights one night in recognition of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. It was a moving, validating moment – something I never dreamed possible.
Are you tired of being told you’re out of options? Would it surprise you to learn that’s simply not true? Our choices for Migraine treatments are better and more numerous than they’ve ever been. In fact, it’s an exciting time for Migraine patients. New discoveries are helping doctors and researchers understand Migraine better than ever before. We’re also on the brink of finally getting treatments specific to Migraine instead of relying on hand-me-down medications made for other diseases.
Recent findings in Migraine research
- Migraine patients are more likely to have poor balance control.
- Kids with Migraine respond to treatment differently than adults.
- Dopamine levels drop during a Migraine attack.
- In an August 2016 study published in Genome Medicine, researchers identified 44 genetic variants associated with Migraine.
- The October 2014 issue of Nature published a study that identified the presence of the lymphatic system in the brain.
- Thanks to the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention study (AAMP), doctors can now tailor acute treatments based on patient characteristics that identify who is likely to respond to typical acute Migraine treatments and those who may need more specialized treatments.
- A new triptan, Lasmiditan, is in development that will be safe for people with cardiovascular risk factors.
- Several new abortive treatments bypass digestion as they are delivered by injection or nasal spray. This is a boon for patients with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
- Non-invasive and minimally-invasive neuromodulation therapies are available for both the prevention and acute treatment of Migraine attacks, eliminating the need to take pills daily or even multiple times per day.
- Newer, more comfortable options are available for sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks.
- Successful trials of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies are making history as the first successful Migraine-specific preventives.
- Schools are becoming more accepting of chronic Migraine as a qualifying disease for special education services and disability accommodations in schools.
- Even the courts are beginning to rule in favor of those dealing with workplace discrimination due to Migraine.
- We have so many Migraine-specific non-medical tools to ease our symptoms, from protective eyewear to wearable ice packs, plus comfortable tools to block sound and odors.
The next time you start to feel like there’s no hope, remember those giant posters and purple lights. We’ve really come a long way. Sooner or later, we will beat Migraine. It may even happen in our lifetime.
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Headache disorders advocate and patient expert, blogger, and mental health therapist, Tammy Rome maintains a private practice specializing in behavioral pain management, as well as writing for her own blog, Brain Storm. She also volunteers as vice chair of the American Headache and Migraine Association and as president of The Cluster Headache Support Group. You can read more of Tammy’s work on her blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.