Migraine Pain Management in Knoxville, TN
What is a migraine?A migraine is more than just a headache. It is an intense throbbing pain on one side of the head that is debilitating to the person experiencing it. It can last from a few hours to up to 3 days and is often accompanied by an acute sensitivity to light and sound causing the sufferers to isolate themselves in a dark, quiet room to find relief. There is an extensive list of symptoms commonly seen by Knoxville TN migraine specialists that often come as a part of a migraine and further aggravate the experience. Migraines can come in different forms. For 15-30% of people, the pain is preceded by something called an aura – a disturbance in the visual field. A migraine with aura is known as a “classic migraine”, the one without – a “common migraine”. Occasionally a migraine can be “silent”: an aura that is not followed by a headache. For some people, migraines can become more frequent over time and turn into chronic migraines – a condition in which a patient experiences migraines for more than 15 days a month. Chronic migraines are particularly disabling and difficult to manage. Migraines are 3 to 4 times more common in women than in men. The first attacks usually occur during puberty or in young adulthood, reaching the peak of frequency and severity during your 30s. They tend to stop as you reach your 60s; in some women they disappear after menopause. Getting a diagnosis for your migraines is important as it will differentiate them from other types of headaches and help you find the most effective treatment options.
What causes migraines?The exact underlying causes of migraines are not known. It appears that there is a genetic component, as people whose parents have had migraines have a higher risk of suffering from the condition. Environmental factors also play a part: stress, fatigue, weather, certain types of foods or even smells have all been reported as migraine triggers. Hormones seem to have a role in migraine onset since women often get them around their period.
How common are migraines?Migraines are one of the most common conditions, affecting around 15% of Americans. Many migraine sufferers go undiagnosed so the actual number is likely to be higher. Around 80% of them are women, who generally tend to have more frequent and severe attacks than men. Migraine is one of the leading causes of disability, often affecting young and otherwise healthy individuals.
Common symptomsIf a migraine attack comes with an aura, it usually begins with changes in your field of vision, such as moving zigzag lines or blurry spots. Some people report partial loss of vision in one eye. You might also feel tingling in your arm that travels up to your mouth and nose and turns into numbness. In rare cases, an aura can manifest as speech disturbances, motor problems, and delusions. This phase usually lasts from a few minutes to an hour and is the first sign that a headache is likely to occur. Next, the pain develops gradually and gets more intense with typical everyday physical activity. Although in most cases the pain is concentrated on one side of the head, it can affect both sides or radiate to the neck. It is usually accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Around 90% of sufferers experience nausea or vomiting. Other symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, sweating, light-headedness, and confusion. Even after a migraine attack has ended it can leave a person feeling weak, tired, and moody. Some patients report experiencing brain fog for several days after the event.
DiagnosisMigraines are diagnosed based on the frequency and duration of the attacks, type of pain, and additional symptoms that are reported by the patient. Typically, brain scans are not necessary for this diagnosis.
How to treat migraines?At the moment there is no cure for migraines but there are various pain management options to minimize the negative effect of this condition on a patient’s life. The first line of defense is simple analgesics, such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Aspirin. If they don’t achieve the desired effect, there are stronger medications available, such as Sumatriptan and other triptans, that have a good track record against migraines. These medications require a doctor’s prescription. It is recommended that the medicine is taken as early during the migraine attack as possible, which increases the chances of pain relief. There is clinical evidence that a combination of different medications is more effective against migraine pain than a single drug. One downside of oral painkillers is that frequent use can ironically lead to more headaches – a condition known as medication overuse headache. Medication overuse can be a real risk for chronic migraine sufferers. Botox injections for migraine in Knoxville have been shown to be effective for chronic migraines, reducing both the frequency and severity of the attacks.
How to prevent migraines?Another step that a migraine sufferer can take is to try and prevent an attack before it begins. This may include avoiding individual triggers (for example, certain foods), improving sleep hygiene, and adopting relaxation techniques. Even though physical activity exacerbates the pain once the attack has started, regular day-to-day exercise such as cycling and walking has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks before they begin. There are also several preventative medications for migraines that you can discuss with your doctor.
ConclusionMigraines are a serious condition that can significantly reduce the quality of life for those who suffer from them. As well as causing severe headaches, they often include many other unpleasant symptoms, to the point where a person cannot continue with their daily activities. Treatment options have a variable degree of success depending on the individual, which is why prevention plays a big role in managing the condition. If you suspect that you are suffering from migraines, make sure to discuss it with your doctor who will be able to confirm the diagnosis and suggest an appropriate treatment plan.
Migraine Treatment in Knoxville, TNThe most important thing is that you seek treatment and work with a professional to learn to manage your symptoms and chart a course to recovery. If your pain is chronic and debilitating, it’s time to take your recovery into your own hands. If you’re looking for migraine treatment in Knoxville, contact Dr. Igor Smelyansky, MD of Omega Pain Management. Phone (865) 337-5137.
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