Let’s face it – no one wants to suffer from painfully disabling and disruptive migraine headaches. Yet migraines remain a very common disease throughout the United States and world. Despite its prevalence, surprisingly few physicians understand how to identify and treat migraines.

For migraine patients, it may be tough to understand the many aspects of the disease. Fortunately, The Migraine Institute is happy to share our knowledge with migraine sufferers about the various causes, symptoms, and treatments of migraines

Here are three things that every migraine sufferer should know:

1. Not all headaches are migraines. But all migraines are headaches.

Headaches are among the most common nervous system disorders, causing pain around the scalp and face. This pain may be dull, sharp or throbbing and last less than an hour or up to several days. Headaches may occur due to emotional distress, high blood pressure or other medical conditions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes more than half of the adult population, including men and women of all ages, experience at least one headache annually.

Migraines are a subset of headaches that involve moderate to severe throbbing or pulsating pain that usually affects one side of the head. Migraines are commonly associated with nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia). It is also common for migraine sufferers to experience various physical and emotional symptoms in the days leading up to a migraine (prodrome) as well as directly before or during a migraine attack (aura).

For those who are unsure about whether they are experiencing migraines versus a different kind of headache, it is important to see a neurologist (brain specialist) who can make an accurate diagnosis. If a migraine is confirmed, your best option for effective and lasting relief is to consult with a highly trained migraine expert like Dr. Jonathan Cabin.

Dr. Cabin is a board-certified head and neck surgeon with dual-subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. He’s helped countless patients clearly understand the differences in headache symptoms and helps them to find the most appropriate and effective treatment.

2. Migraine triggers come in all flavors. But the true cause of migraines remains unknown.

Although migraines have been extensively studied, many aspects of the disease are unknown, including why certain people get migraines and what is exactly happening in the brain during a migraine. And most researchers agree that there are likely many underlying causes of migraines.

There is clearer understanding of the various triggers that can lead to individual migraines. Potential triggers include environmental exposures (i.e. certain foods), physical ailments or psychological shifts, like stress or lack of sleep.

More recently, various migraine nerve triggers have been identified around the face and neck. These areas are thought to represent the source of a faulty signal that eventually sets off the migraines within the brain. Understanding of these triggers, and how to accurately locate them in migraine patients, has led to the most cutting-edge and advanced treatments of migraines.

Dr. Cabin is an expert in migraine trigger treatment, implementing the latest in interventional migraine treatment by developing unique treatment plans for each patient, and precisely targeting these trigger nerves.

3. Many safe, effective migraine treatments are available.

At times, migraines may seem impossible to effectively treat, even with prophylactic or abortive medications. However, many lesser-known migraine treatments are available that can deliver very safe, and very effective results.

For some migraine sufferers, a combination of lifestyle changes, avoidance of migraine triggers and medications can be used to reduce or prevent migraine symptoms.

Of course, if these migraine treatments aren’t working well, other highly-effective treatment options are available, including BOTOX® injections or minimally-invasive surgery. These treatments can be used as an alternative to traditional treatments, or in addition to them.

BOTOX® is FDA-approved treatment for migraines and involves tiny injections around the face and neck in the areas of likely nerve triggers. Migraine surgery involves physical release of these same nerves. Both help to eliminate ineffective nerve signals and reduce the duration, intensity, and frequency of migraines. We tailor these and other treatments to a migraine sufferer’s unique and specific migraine triggers.

To find out more about migraine treatments, please contact The Migraine Institute at 310.461.0303.

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