• Health

    14 Pain Management Strategies from a Chronic Migraine Sufferer

    Migraines are debilitating in a way that can only be understood if you’ve had one. Sound takes on a new form as every noise is magnified and hammers your temple with pain. I remember times I could not eat near others, because the sound of their fork touching the dinner plate was excruciating.

    Over the years of dealing with chronic migraine, I’ve learned strategies that allow me to cope. If you’re dealing with migraine, I hope there are some items on this list that provide you with some relief:

    1. Cold. Ice packs, cold packs, and even just some ice in a ziplock bag can be a go-to remedy. This is one instance where numbing away the pain can really work.
    2. Alternating meds. If you take over the counter meds like Advil and Tylenol try alternating which pain reliever you take. This will make sure that your pain is always being addressed instead of feeling terrible at hour 3 of Advil waiting until you can take your next dose. Follow the label instructions and alternate which medication you use for consistent relief.
    3. Pressure points. I’ve found lying down on the C-rest to be incredibly helpful in relieving tension and pain in the neck and lower head. I also use Sea bands which are worn on the wrists to soothe the nausea that can accompany migraines.
    4. Topic pain relief. Biofreeze provides a cooling pain relief and comes in a roll-on which you can massage into your head. If you are looking for a natural alternative, peppermint oil gives the same effect. Just make sure to dilute it into a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil before applying.
    5. Aroma therapy. Put a few drops in a diffusor, put some on a cotton ball nearby, or simply take a few deep breaths from the bottle to gain benefits.
    6. CBD oil. Many claim CBD has several health benefits, such as pain relief and providing calm. For a balanced review and look at CBD, I recommend this article from Consumer Reports. If you decide to try this remedy, make sure you buy it from a pharmacy and that the product is third party tested (so you know are purchasing a safe and quality product). Additionally, the pharmacist will be there to answer any questions you may have with your condition or interactions of CBD. Some HSA and FSA plans will even cover this treatment.
    7. Trying new therapies. Branch out of your norm and try a new therapy. You never know which one will click for you and make all the difference. Here are some ideas you might try:
      • Acupuncture.
      • Chiropractic care.
      • Massage Therapy.
      • Physical therapy.
    8. Animals. Being around your pets can help you release a relaxation hormone in your body, which can seriously help you feel better.
    9. Give yourself time and space. Allowing yourself the time to feel better is a necessity. Ever notice if you’re trying to hurry up and feel better on a deadline, the stress makes you feel worse? Relax and accept the fact that feeling better might take some time.
    10. Get comfy. Or as comfy as possible when you’re really in physical pain. Remove any hair ties, headbands, or anything pulling on your hair. Anything that pulls on your scalp can accentuate the pain. Put on some comfy clothes and lie down. Turn off that annoying overhead light.
    11. Avoid triggers. Pay attention to the reaction your body has to foods, smells, sounds, etc. Some common triggers can be:
      • Aged cheese
      • Chocolate
      • Artificial sweeteners (like Aspertame)
      • Nitrates found in processes meats
      • Dehydration
      • Strong smells
      • Excessive noise
      • Eye strain
      • Hunger
      • Not enough sleep
      • Weather
      • Over-ripe bananas
      • STRESS
      • And the list goes on (unfortunately)
    12. Limit stress in everyday life. Stress takes a toll on the body and has been proven to make pain worse. Try to be proactive in your day to day, and take time for yourself to decompress. Some of my favorite de-stressors are:
      • Taking an epsom salt bath
      • Meditating (there are plenty of free apps that are great for this)
      • Spending time with friends or family
      • Taking a brief walk around the block without looking at your phone
    13. Severe? Don’t be afraid to go to Urgent Care. After suffering a week-long migraine, nothing seemed to be working and I was ready to lose it. My mom drove me to the ER. They gave me an IV of fluids, pain medication, as well as an anti-nausea since I had been throwing up. They also prescribed me anti-nausea meds to take home. I was finally able to kick the migraine for good shortly after.
    14. Talk to your doctor. The medical advice of a professional who knows you is always best. There may be an underlying cause for your migraines, that once addressed will solve your problem. There are also prescriptions and medical therapies (Botox) that your doctor can discuss with you. Together you can make the best decision of care that is needed.