Why Can't I Take A Narcotic That Works For My Migraines...


Asked by rebecca

Why Can't I Take A Narcotic That Works For My Migraines...

... instead of soo many pills that DON'T WORK!

I've had non aura migraines for at least 25 years.They were rare until about 7 years ago.They started to get progressivly worse.4 yrs ago they became chronic. My MRI was normal except I moved, & something about a low brainstem? (thats why when I bend over, strain, cough hard my head hurts).

Ive tried so many preventatives, tried so many treatments,have the infusions,(now that I have insurance). I went to a pain management Dr. last week & was told that NO PILL will make a migraine stop. He has never had a migraine by the way. all he did was double my Depakote, which I am on for BiPolar.

I know what he told me isnt true because during an attack, my Mother in Law couldnt stand watching me writh in pain, cry &vomit for another second so she gave me a narcotic pill. it worked. slowly at first then 4 hours later I took 1 more & it went away. By some miracle it actually stayed away for about a week. Yes I know its frowned upon by drs but maybe some of you will agree that when your in that hell you might try anything to just make it stop! Isnt it better to take 1 narcotic that works than so many pills that don't? better for your body & emotions? I think I am going mad I cant take much more. this is not living. And I see no end in sight because doctors dont seem to care. help!


Hi, Rebecca,

This is a good question, but the answer isn't simple, so please bear with me?

Some doctors will prescribe limited amounts of opioids for some of their patients after they've worked with them long enough to see how they respond to other medications. It's usually a matter of finding a doctor who truly understand Migraine, establishing a good relationship with them, and continuing to work with them.

You're quite correct in that the pain management doctor you saw was incorrect. There are classes of medications specifically developed to stop Migraines. They're called Migraine abortive medications. These include the triptans and the ergotamines. There are seven medications in the triptan family - Imitrex , Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Relpax, Axert, and Frova -- as well as Treximet, which is a combination of Imitrex and Naproxen Sodium. Each of the triptans binds to different combinations of serotonin receptors, which is why our bodies may respond differently to each of them. The ergotamines include Migranal Nasal Spray or DHE injections that you can give yourself at home. These medications can truly stop the Migraine.

Opioids (narcotics) can't actually abort a Migraine. What they do is mask the pain for a few hours during which the Migraine may run its course and stop on its own. I know it can seem that they stop the Migraine, but they literally can't.

There's a real reason doctors frown on opioids for Migraine. They're not just being hard on us or not trusting us. Research has shown that any use of opioids can actually make our Migraines worse and increase the chances of episodic Migraine transforming to chronic Migraine and chronic Migraine resisting transforming back to episodic. You can find information about that in Transformed Migraine - Risk Increased by Some Medications. If your doctor isn't able to help, it may well be time to consult a Migraine and headache specialist. It's important to note that neurologists aren't necessarily Migraine and headache specialists. Take a look at the article Migraine and Headache Specialists - What's So Special? If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, check our listing of Patient Recommended Migraine and Headache Specialists. There ARE doctors who care, Rebecca. Quite a few Migraine specialists have Migraines themselves.

As I said at the beginning of my reply, some doctors will prescribe opioids for some of their patients after they've worked with them for a while. They do want their patients to try abortives first and be working on a preventive regimen if they have frequent Migraines. The reason is the information I gave you about opioids making things worse and that they don't want to do anything that can make things worse for us.


Answered by Teri Robert