A Look at Migraine Pain Relief Options

Managing Migraine Pain Relief

Migraine Pain ReliefManaging migraine pain is a complicated process — there are many options and no one-size-fits-all treatment.

Though results vary for each sufferer and even each migraine, the main ways to treat migraine pain are abortive, preventative and alternative treatments. The effectiveness of each treatment is individual and there is a vast number of options out there for migraineurs.

Abortive Medication

Abortive medications are used to stop or slow symptoms of migraine and pain once a migraine has begun. There are many options out there, both over-the-counter and through prescription.

Over-the-counter medications include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol),
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Excedrin (contains acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine)

The daily and frequent use of over-the-counter medications may cause stomach issues, rebound headaches or ulcers, so be cautious when taking these meds.

I personally suffered from rebound headaches after extended amounts of time using over-the-counter medication. I was using more medication to treat the rebound headaches, which perpetuated the cycle. Once I realized the complications with the medications, I stopped using them.


Triptans are a prescription option for managing migraine. The medication constricts blood vessels in order to block pain and pathways to the brain. Since many migraine sufferers experience gastrointestinal difficulty during a migraine attack, triptans are available in pill, spray, or injectable options.

I take both nasal spray and injectable triptans to abort a migraine attack. I throw up pills once a migraine attack is in full force, and these options ensure that I am receiving the medication needed.


Controlling nausea helps prevent throwing up, so anti-nausea medications are often combined with abortives to keep this nasty symptom at bay.

Many migraineurs have reactions and side effects of triptans, so please proceed with care.


Steroids may be prescribed to control inflammation — they may not be used frequently and are meant to break a migraine cycle or extended migraine pain. I am very sensitive to steroid side effects, but find if my triptans are not working and I can’t break a cycle of pain, steroids are an option to get me to a more manageable place.


Opioids may be used to treat migraine pain (with caution) for patients who cannot take triptans or other migraine treatments.

Opioids are habit-forming and often abused. For this reason, regulations are starting to get tighter, and Opioids are becoming a rare treatment option.

This is a frustrating reality for me being I use opioids to treat my chronic migraine. Medications should be used as prescribed, and for me they are effective when used thoughtfully.

Preventative Medication

Preventative medication is used frequently to prevent migraine from occurring. The goal of prevention is to lessen frequency, intensity, and duration of migraine.

Preventative medication is used for those who suffer for extended amounts of time with no relief. They don’t work immediately; they need to be taken consistently (as prescribed), and may take weeks until prevention is achieved.

Next page: anti-seizure drugs, and alternative treatments.

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