Migraine Injections: Is this Migraine Medication for Me?

If you are struggling to find migraine medications that work for your unique condition, injections may be the answer. Migraine injections are used for treatment when pain does not respond to milder migraine medications. They are commonly administered in an emergency room setting for severe attacks, but may also be used in an outpatient setting or at home, depending on which injectable treatment you elect to take.

There are several types of migraine injections from which to choose and only a physician who is familiar with your condition will be able to determine if one of them could be a safe and effective alternative to your current regimen. The most common migraine injections include:

Botox: For migraine treatment, Botox paralyzes muscle activity and temporarily blocks nerve signals. It is comprised of a toxic microbe that causes botulism (a food poising); however, in a controlled injectable amount, the medication has mild side effects. In addition to migraine relief, Botox is used for cosmetic improvements or as a qualifier for migraine relief surgery. 

Demerol (Meperidine HCI): A narcotic pain reliever, Demerol is typically only used in an emergency room for fast effective relief from moderate to severe migraine attacks. It may also be used before or after surgery. The drug interacts with centers in the brain to bolster the body’s pain tolerance. 

Toradol (Ketorlac): Toradol is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) with short-term pain relieving qualities. It is used before or after surgery to reduce pain, swelling or fever or may be used as a routine treatment option for those who suffer from severe chronic migraines.

Sarapin: As the only completely natural pain reliever, sarapin is a popular choice among migraineurs exhausted by the countless drugs they take. The migraine medication is a water-based plant extract derived from the Pitcher Plan. It possesses no known side effects, is an effective replacement for cortisone and is used to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions, including chronic migraine syndrome and chronic tension headaches. 

Certain triptans and ergotamines, such as Imitrex or Dihydroergotamine, may also be administered as an injectable.

Trigger-Point Injections

Trigger points are specific, sensitive areas in the skeletal muscles of the body. When stimulated or irritated, they can cause painful symptoms in other areas. Trigger points that exist in the muscles surrounding the head, neck and shoulders can contribute to migraines or tension headaches. During a trigger point injection, a local anesthetic is injected directly into the trigger point(s) thought to be contributing to migraine pain. The local anesthetic numbs pain receptors in the nerves to alleviate discomfort.

When to Consider Injections

If your migraines have not been effectively treated with milder migraine medications and attacks are severe in nature, migraine injections may be able to help alleviate pain. 

Migraineurs with frequent, untreatable episodes that are accompanied by vomiting or nausea should also consider injections because dehydration is a serious risk and vomiting may prevent these individuals from holding down liquids and oral medications. 

If your migraines last longer than 72 hours with only four hours or less that are pain free while awake, you may be suffering from a migraine type called Status Migrainosus, and emergency care (often including a migraine injection) is recommended. This level of severity increases a sufferers risk for stroke and is considered a serious medical condition. 

If you are unable to tolerate oral migraine medications or any other form of intake, or you have an underlying medical condition that prevents you from safely taking milder but effective forms of migraine medication, migraine injections may be a more compatible option for you. 

Schedule a consultation with your treating physician to discuss injected migraine medications. Some injections provide short-term relief while other can provide relief for up to 12 weeks (depending on the patient and condition). To help your physician determine if injections are the right approach for your migraine medication intake, come prepared to your appointment with a log that outlines how often you experience attacks, what medications you currently take, how much you take them and what affect, if any, your current migraine medications have on chronic episodes. 

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Image Source: Markus Grossalber

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