About a year after the birth of my son I began developing migraines. Sure, I had experienced headaches before: tension headaches, sinus headaches, I’ve been out in the sun all day and didn’t drink enough water headaches.
But nothing I had experienced before prepared me for the full body attack that is a migraine.
At first I didn’t know what was happening to me. I had an intense throbbing on the left side of my head, sound and noise became mortal enemies, and if I dared sit up from my bed and move around I became nauseated.
When I looked up this crippling compilation of symptoms I discovered that in fact I had a migraine.
Over the past ten years I have had at least one migraine a month, sometimes as much a once a week. When you are in this much pain and experience this much disability, you pretty much vow to do anything humanly possible to get better.
Not everything I tried worked,
but here are 5 things I have found that do help migraine pain and frequency.
Take pain medication at the first sign of pain.
Thankfully, I am still able to control my migraines with over the counter drugs. My go-to medication at the first sign of migraine pain is Excedrin Migraine. If after 5 or so hours I am still hurting, I usually follow up with an Aleve. *It is always good to talk to your doctor about any kind of medication you are taking, even over-the-counter drugs, so that you can avoid drug interactions.
Use Ice Packs.
For a long time I used heat when I had a migraine. Thankfully, my chiropractor clued me in that ice packs can be even more helpful. I usually start by lying down with an ice pack at the base of my neck for 20 minutes. If I am still hurting, I will refreeze the pack and lay it on my throat in the vicinity of my carotid artery. Also, I sometimes put the ice pack on the throbbing area around my eye. If nothing else, the ice numbs the pain enough so that I can sleep, which is often the best thing I can do during a migraine.
Go ahead and reschedule my day so I can focus on rest and practicing mindfulness techniques
I have tried to work through many a migraine. Sometimes the meds alone were enough to kick the pain and body symptoms so that I could work. There are also many occasions when I have puked publicly while trying to work through a migraine. Yeah, because having a migraine isn’t bad enough. After a scary weekend when I drove teenagers through Atlanta traffic with a mild migraine and then spent an incredibly painful retreat laid up in a camp bed with my migraine much intensified, I vowed not to work through migraines again.
There are times I can get a few things done around the house with a migraine as long as I don’t drive or go outside. Mostly, I try to be gentle with myself and go ahead and settle in for a day of rest, Gatorade, and deep breathing/relaxation techniques. The headaches seem to resolve quicker if I lead with rest and relaxation instead of trying to fight through the pain.
Get Monthly Massages
Whether it be the chicken or the egg, my migraines are often accompanied by muscle spasms in my neck, shoulders, and back. I have found that having a good deep massage once a month relieves the tension that has built up in that area. In fact, if I keep up with my massages regularly it seems to reduce the frequency with which I get migraines. I also pair my massages with light upper body exercises and being mindful I am not holding tension in my upper body when it should not be working. These daily practices help keep my muscles relaxed longer.
Take Magnesium Supplements
This is a big one. Both my family practice doc and my psychiatrist suggested I take magnesium supplements. At first I took the drug store variety, but I have found these two drugs to be much more helpful.
I like both Migravent and Migraine Stop as they each have different combos of supplements in addition to the magnesium. Ideally, I take the Migravent in the morning with a vitamin D and then take the MigraineStop at night. I believe these supplements have reduced both the intensity and the frequency of my migraines.
I am by no means an expert, but these are five things that have helped me on my migraine journey. I know folks who have found migraine relief through Daith piercings and acupuncture as well. Feel free to share your best migraine relief strategies in the comments below.
Above all, know that you are not alone. If migraines debilitate you, I strongly encourage you to plug into an online support group to learn more about migraines and get support in handling them.
May you have many pain free days!
*Affiliate advertising links are included. Though I will receive compensation if you click on the links, I only included items I truly believe to be helpful.