Migraines are a type of severe headache often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound, causing debilitating pain.

The basics

Migraines are severe headaches that can last from a few hours to a few days. They can be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can be debilitating and affect daily activities. They affect approximately 1 in 7 people worldwide, with women being three times more likely to experience them than men. Migraines can start at any age, but they typically begin during adolescence or early adulthood. While migraines are painful and disruptive, treatments such as over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms. With proper treatment, most people with migraines are able to lead full and active lives.

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Migraine presentation can differ among individuals but usually involves intense, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. Common symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Visual disturbances, such as flashing lights or blind spots
  • Tingling or numbness in the face or extremities
  • Fatigue or lethargy

Migraines can last from a few hours up to several days, with pain sometimes being so severe that it disrupts daily activities. Some individuals might experience a prodrome or aura before the migraine's onset, characterized by mood, appetite, or energy level changes, as well as visual or sensory disturbances. Migraines can significantly impact a person's physical, emotional, and social well-being, making them a highly disruptive and distressing condition.

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Therapies & treatments

Orofacial Therapy

Orofacial pain therapists can help patients manage migraines that are triggered by tension or pain in the jaw or face. This may involve using techniques such as trigger point release, dry needling, or intraoral massage to help reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and alleviate pain symptoms associated with migraines.


Medications such as triptans, ergotamines, beta-blockers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to treat migraines and alleviate pain symptoms.

Botox Injections

Botox injections can be used to prevent chronic migraines by blocking the release of certain chemicals that contribute to pain.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain and alleviate migraine symptoms.

Occipital Nerve Blocks

Occipital nerve blocks involve injecting a numbing medication into the occipital nerve to provide short-term relief of migraine pain.

IV Infusions

IV infusions of certain medications such as magnesium, lidocaine, and ketamine have been shown to be effective in treating migraines and reducing pain symptoms.

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Self-care strategies

Identify and avoid triggers

Keep a migraine diary to identify potential triggers and avoid them as much as possible. Common triggers include stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, and changes in sleep patterns.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends, to help prevent migraines.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can trigger migraines, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Practice relaxation techniques

Stress can be a major trigger for migraines, so practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can be helpful.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. However, be sure to warm up slowly and avoid sudden or intense exertion that may trigger a migraine.

Manage stress

Chronic stress can increase the frequency and severity of migraines. Consider stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, or talking to a therapist.

Use over-the-counter pain relief

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be effective for relieving mild to moderate migraine pain.

Apply heat or cold

Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Rest in a dark, quiet room

Resting in a dark, quiet room can help reduce the severity of a migraine attack.

Seek support

Joining a support group or talking to others who experience migraines can provide emotional support and help you feel less isolated.

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