My migraines have been chronic for over five years now. I have at least 20 days every month when a migraine takes me down for the day. I can’t work or care for my family, and I stay home most of the time to avoid triggers like perfume. My doctor says there’s nothing left to try. Here’s my question: If one or two meds in a family haven’t helped, is it possible that other meds in that family might work? My doctor says it’s not worth trying them, but I’ve seen people say otherwise online. I’ve read your column for a long time and respect your opinion. So, what do you say? Thank you, Eleanor.
This is an excellent question. The short answer is, “Yes.” It’s unfortunate, but finding effective preventives is very much a process of trial and error. We just don’t have medications that work for everyone or even most people. It is definitely worth trying other medications in a family, even if you’ve tried some of them, and they failed. We’ve seen Migraine patients try some of the medications in a particular family with no results, then try another one that helped them. Another preventive to consider is onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections. Again, the treatment doesn’t work for everyone, but it works well for many people with chronic Migraine.
If you need it, you can find a list of preventive treatments in Migraine and Headache Prevention – So Many Options.
Another issue to consider is the doctor who’s treating you for Migraine. Are you seeing a Migraine specialist? Neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine specialists, and Migraine specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists. For more on this and links to search for a specialist near you, see Why, How, and Where to Find a Migraine Specialist.
Thank you for your question,
Dave Watson and Teri Robert
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© David Watson and Teri Robert, 2017.
Dr. David Watson is a UCNS certified migraine and headache specialist and the director of the West Virginia University Headache Center. Dr. Watson takes a special interest in migraines, cluster headaches, and tension-type headaches. He strives to stay up-to-date on current research and treatments and regularly attends continuing medical education conferences. “Dr. Dave” is also very active in the migraine community, taking part in and leading advocacy efforts to benefit the entire community. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Runnin’ for Research, a nonprofit organization that helps interested patients and doctors set up races in their areas to raise research funding for headache disorders. He’s also a regular participant in the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy’s “Headache on the Hill” event and is co-secretary of the American Headache and Migraine Association. You can follow Dr. Watson on Twitter.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate in the area of migraine and other headache disorders, and has been writing for the HealthCentral migraine site since 2007. She is a co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association. She received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award for “ongoing patient education, support, and advocacy,” in 2004 and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society in 2013. You can find links to Teri’s work on her web site and blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Do you have questions about Migraine? Reader questions are answered by UCNS certified Migraine and headache specialist Dr. David Watson, and award-winning patient educator and advocate Teri Robert. Questions may be submitted via our submission form. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers in our Ask the Clinician column. For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can’t answer, please see Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice.