Exercise Your Body and Mind

Individuals Living with Chronic Migraines Share Lessons Learned on Coping with the Condition

Lessons I’ve Learned from Living with Chronic Migraines

Lindsay Weitzel, PhD, a renowned author and podcast/webcast host for the National Headache Foundation, shares her inspiring journey with chronic migraines. She vividly recalls experiencing her first migraine at the tender age of 4, which persisted until she reached 30. The excruciating pain even led to complex regional pain syndrome, making her feel like her bones were on fire. 😱

However, Lindsay discovered that exercise could help manage her pain and provide mental and emotional relief. As a competitive swimmer, she used swimming to keep her pain levels under control. Unfortunately, by her sophomore year of high school, the pain became too overwhelming, and competitive swimming became impossible. 😢

Determined not to let migraines control her life, Lindsay turned to running instead. Not only did it boost her endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers), but it also relieved muscle tension. Even now, as a 46-year-old, she continues to exercise daily to ward off pain. 💪

Lindsay believes that it’s crucial for people to understand the debilitating and diverse nature of migraines. Often, individuals mistakenly think that migraines can be fixed simply with medication. However, for many, migraines become a lifelong battle that requires a comprehensive approach. Lindsay’s advice to those struggling with chronic migraines is to build a rock wall: half medication and half lifestyle factors, all held together by the mortar of your mentality. She personally finds meditation to be a significant part of that mortar, as migraines often cause anxiety. However, being worried about the pain returning can actually trigger its recurrence. So, she studies meditation, reads books, uses apps, and just goes with the flow. 🧘‍♀️

To learn more about the benefits of exercise and coping strategies for migraines, check out these insightful resources: – The Effects of Physical Exercise on Migraine: A Critical ReviewExercise and Migraine: The Latest Research

Keep Searching for a Treatment that Works

Cindy Otis from Irmo, SC has been battling migraines for over 28 years. Unfortunately, hers are triggered by drastic changes in barometric pressure, making them difficult to avoid. In fact, her kids even affectionately nicknamed her “Barometer Head” due to this sensitivity! ⛈️

When Cindy and her family lived in the Pocono Mountains, located at an altitude of approximately 2,200 feet, she experienced migraines four times a week. The frequent weather fronts moving through the region were a significant trigger. However, when they moved away from the mountains, her migraines decreased to only seven to eight per month! 🏔️

Cindy’s journey involved trying various medications and seeing several neurologists, but her breakthrough came with the development of a preventive medication. She now takes a once-a-month injection of a monoclonal antibody, significantly reducing her migraines to a maximum of three per month. This has eliminated the need for emergency room visits and numerous recovery days spent dealing with the side effects of various medications. When she does experience a migraine, she relies on a powdered nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) mixed with water for relief. 💉

Cindy emphasizes the importance of perseverance in finding a treatment that works for you. Migraines can be debilitating, and it’s disheartening when others trivialize the condition. Her advice is to keep searching until you find the best medication for your particular situation. Don’t settle for less or tolerate intolerable side effects. Fortunately, medical advancements have led to the development of specific preventive medications for migraines, and individuals experiencing four or more days of migraine disability per month should consider exploring these options. 🔍

To stay informed about the latest developments in migraine treatments and discover effective preventive measures, you may find these resources helpful: – Migraine Prevention: Is It Time to Finally Get Relief?New Preventive Treatments for Migraine

‘I Vowed That Migraine Would Not Ruin My Life’

Jill Dehlin, an esteemed and resilient nurse, shares her journey with migraines, which began with a three-day headache when she was 32. Initially, she believed it was a side effect of her medication, but even after discontinuing it, the headache persisted. Her attacks predominantly target the left side of her head, causing searing, burning, and throbbing pain. Describing the intensity of her migraines, Jill explains that they cannot be solely measured on a pain scale of 1 to 10. Instead, it feels as if someone drilled a hole in the left side of her head, poured in hot acid, and then subjected her head to loud, pounding music while smashing it into concrete with each beat. The pain is often unbearable, rendering her speechless. 😖

During the earlier stages of Jill’s journey, effective migraine treatments were scarce. She relied on over-the-counter medications for relief. However, when she switched internists, her new doctor prescribed a beta-blocker as a preventive measure. While it reduced the frequency, intensity, and duration of her attacks, the medication brought about undesirable side effects, including depression. This made it difficult for Jill to start and complete her PhD, leaving her feeling stuck and unmotivated. In 2006, her condition worsened, leading to complete disability. Fortunately, Jill’s internist referred her to a headache specialist in 2018, who introduced her to specific migraine medications for prevention, as well as triptans for acute attacks. Despite trying over 60 different preventive medicines, Jill remained optimistic, refusing to let migraines ruin her life. She discovered joy in playing the harp, capturing beautiful photographs, and spending time outdoors with her active Portuguese water dog. Additionally, relaxation exercises, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a migraine-specific nerve stimulation device have all contributed to her wellness journey. 💜

Jill passionately advocates for those suffering from migraines, emphasizing that it is a common condition affecting 18% of females and 6% of males. If you experience four or more days per month of migraine-induced disability, Jill urges you to consider preventive medications designed specifically for migraines. If the side effects are intolerable or the medication fails to reduce your attacks by at least 50%, speak up and explore alternative options. Never settle for subpar care. Communication is key, so if you feel that your doctor isn’t taking your migraine seriously, let them know. They can’t read your mind. Should you find yourself dissatisfied with your current care, don’t hesitate to find another doctor who specializes in migraine treatment. Additionally, joining a migraine support group can provide invaluable support and understanding from others who share similar experiences. Together, you can navigate the challenges of migraine and advocate for better care. 🤝

If you’re curious to learn more about the prevalence, preventives, and personal testimonials related to migraines, these resources are highly informative: – Prevalence, Burden, and Treatment of Migraine in the USMigraine: Preventive Treatment OptionsHeadache and Migraine Support Group

💡 Q&A

Q: Are there any natural remedies or alternative treatments for migraines? A: While medication is often the primary approach for treating migraines, many individuals find relief through various natural remedies and alternative treatments. Some popular options include acupuncture, dietary changes, herbal supplements (such as feverfew and butterbur), biofeedback, and essential oils. However, it’s important to remember that what works for one person might not work for another. If you’re considering alternative treatments, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in migraine management to ensure safety and efficacy.

Q: Can migraines be triggered by specific foods? A: Absolutely! Certain foods and beverages can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals. Common culprits include chocolate, aged cheese, cured meats, alcohol (particularly red wine), monosodium glutamate (MSG), caffeine, and artificial sweeteners. However, it’s important to note that triggers vary from person to person, so it’s essential to identify your personal triggers through careful observation and tracking of your diet and migraine episodes. By avoiding these triggers, you may be able to reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines.

Q: Is there a cure for migraines? A: Currently, there is no definitive cure for migraines. However, numerous treatments aim to manage and alleviate symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of attacks, and improve overall quality of life. Preventive medications, acute attack treatments, lifestyle modifications, and alternative therapies can all play a role in managing migraines. Seeking individualized medical advice from a healthcare professional experienced in migraine management is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Q: How can stress and anxiety impact migraines? A: Stress and anxiety are known triggers for migraines and can exacerbate their symptoms. The mind-body connection is an integral aspect of managing migraines. High stress levels can lead to muscle tension, changes in neurotransmitter levels, and increased activation of the pain centers in the brain. Additionally, anxiety itself can be a result of living with chronic migraines, creating a vicious cycle. Employing stress-reduction techniques, such as relaxation exercises, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy, can help manage these triggers and improve overall well-being.

Q: Are there any new developments or research being conducted on migraines? A: Exciting advances are continually being made in migraine research. One promising area of study involves the development of CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) monoclonal antibodies, which target the protein responsible for transmitting pain signals during migraines. These antibodies have shown considerable efficacy in preventing migraines and are transforming the landscape of migraine management. Additionally, ongoing research focuses on the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to migraines, leading to a better understanding of the condition and the development of novel treatments.

Incorporating real-life stories from individuals like Lindsay, Cindy, and Jill provides a glimpse into the personal struggles and triumphs associated with living with chronic migraines. Their experiences shed light on the multifaceted nature of migraines and serve as a reminder that individuals with migraines should be supported and understood. 😊

Remember, sharing this article with your friends and family can help create awareness and understanding about migraines. So, spread the word, and let’s make a positive difference together! 🌟

Show References: – Weitzel, L., Otis, C., Dehlin, J., & National Headache Foundation. (n.d.). Three people who’ve lived with chronic migraine discuss what their journey has taught them, from the benefits of exercise to the importance of speaking up for yourself. Retrieved from Website Link. – Ruan, Z. X., & Chang, Y. C. (2012). The Effects of Physical Exercise on Migraine: A Critical Review. Pubmed Link. – Verywell Health. (n.d.). Exercise and Migraine: The Latest Research. Retrieved from Link. – Tso, A. R., & Goadsby, P. J. (2018). New Preventive Treatments for Migraine. Pubmed Link. – medicine.org. (n.d.). Migraine Prevention: Is It Time to Finally Get Relief? Retrieved from Link. – National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Prevalence, Burden, and Treatment of Migraine in the US. Retrieved from Pubmed Link. – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2012). Headache and Migraine – Diagnosis and Management of Headache in Young People and Adults. NICE guidance. – National Migraine Foundation. (n.d.). Headache and Migraine Support Group. Retrieved from Website Link.