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Taking the Pain Out of Migraine Treatment

Treating Migraines as They Come May Lead to Medication Overuse

Medication Overuse and Migraines continued...

Preventive therapy involves taking medication daily to prevent migraines vs. using drugs only occasionally to treat attacks.

"The goals of prevention are to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of attacks," says Silberstein. "The other thing we believe is that it improves the responsiveness to acute treatments."

Silberstein says research also shows that preventive therapy actually reduces overall medication and health-care costs in addition to lowering the risk of medication overuse.

For example, a recent study showed that preventive therapy dramatically reduced acute medication use, doctor's office and emergency room visits, and the use of CT (computerized tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans.

New Migraine Treatments on the Horizon

Silberstein adds that two new drugs under study may offer migraine sufferers new treatment options.

The first of these drugs, Topamax, has traditionally been used in the treatment of epileptic seizures and is now under consideration by the FDA for treatment of migraine. In a recent study, half of the people treated with Topamax experienced a 50% reduction in the frequency of their migraines, 27% had a 75%-90% reduction, and 6% saw their migraines completely eliminated.

Side effects were reported among about 5% of patients who used Topamax and included anxiety, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, memory problems, and insomnia.

Another drug being studied for the treatment of migraine is Botox (botulinum toxin type A), a drug best known for its wrinkle-reducing effects. The drug was originally developed to treat muscle disorders, but recent research has shown that it also works on the sensory nerves and areas of the brain involved in migraine, blocking the pain involved in migraine attacks.

Experts say the treatment of migraine has changed drastically in the last decade, and people who aren't getting the relief they need from their current therapy should talk to their doctor about alternatives.

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