Acute Migraine Pain Management and Prevention Tips

migraine pain management

Pain is defined as any uncomfortable sensation that we experience. This uncomfortable sensation is usually linked to tissue damage and it is a way for the body to react to prevent further tissue damage. Migraines are characterized by moderate to severe headaches. These headaches can last from a few hours to a few days and are pulsating in nature. Symptoms associated with migraines can include nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances and increased sensitivity to external stimuli. It is important to use migraine pain management techniques that are effective and sustainable in order to avoid symptoms and comfortably carry on with one’s daily life. 

What causes migraines?

People feel the sensation of pain when signals travel through the body’s nerve fibers towards the brain for interpretation. We each may experience pain differently and in a variety of different ways. Pain can be long-term pain or short-term. Pain can also be limited to one area or it could spread across the body. Furthermore, pain could feel like anything from a dull ache to a sharp burning sensation. Pain management techniques can be extremely useful to patients who are experiencing consistent pain that is interfering with their daily activities.

The causes of migraines are unknown. However, researchers suggest that they may be associated with environmental and genetic factors. Migraines can be associated with many psychological conditions including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Many things can trigger migraines such as fatigue, certain foods, and weather. Many people with migraines report experiencing triggers and symptoms of migraines may start up to 24 hours after a trigger.

Migraine triggers

Stress, hunger, and fatigue are common triggers for migraines. Migraines have been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological abuse. They may also occur close to menstruation, during pregnancy or menopause, due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur during these times.

Many people report foods as triggers for migraines. Chocolate, alcohol, most cheeses and processed meats contain tyramine, a common migraine trigger. Another common dietary trigger for migraines is monosodium glutamate (MSG). Environmental triggers for migraines include harsh lighting and insufficient air quality. One may implement migraine prevention measures by improving indoor air quality and lighting. This includes ventilation and various black out items to reduce light.

Science behind migraine pain

Migraines are a neurological and neurovascular disorder. One theory to explain the occurrence of migraines suggests there is an increased excitability of the cerebral cortex and abnormal firing of pain neurons in the brain stem. 

The exact mechanism of the head pain which occurs during a migraine is unknown. There is evidence supporting both the excitability of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Blood vessels in the head and scalp are also potentially involved. These include the dural arteries, pial arteries and extracranial arteries. These vessels are believed to be extremely dilated in those who experience migraines.

migraine management

The neuromodulator, adenosine, may also be involved in the occurrence of migraine pain. Adenosine dilates blood vessles and slows heart rate. Adenosine levels have been found to be high during migraines. Caffeine has been found to inhibit adenosine, thus reducing the occurrence of migraines. 

Chronic pain and migraines

Acute pain refers to an intense and short-lived pain. Chronic pain lasts far longer than acute pain and there is often no cure. This pain can be mild and or it can be severe and at times, continuous. For example, arthritis is a continuous feeling of pain whereas migraines is a feeling of intermittent pain. Migraines occur repeatedly but they stop in between. The main difference between chronic pain and acute pain is that fight or flight reactions eventually stop with people experiencing chronic pain. This is because their nervous system eventually adapts to the pain stimulus.

Chronic pain remains the number one cause of disability in the world (long-term basis). Women present a higher risk of developing such manifestations, especially when it comes to headaches and/or migraines. As a result of chronic pain, people report feeling depressed, anxious and fatigued. Many more feel like they have little or no control over their pain, with insomnia becoming a common manifestation.

In dealing with chronic pain, people seek out the help of specialist physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists. They might also become dependent on pain-relieving medication, taking a break from work and requiring help for daily living activities. Proper management and keeping a daily pain diary can be useful in feeling more in control. This is especially true when living with a chronic condition, one that can lead to persistent pain episodes.

Using technology to track chronic pain and migraines

It is important for patients to be familiar with and understand what types of pain there are so we can easily and accurately describe it to our healthcare providers. Healthcare providers will need to know all the information they can in order to prescribe the best possible techniques for migraine pain management. Different types of pain are best dealt with different types of pain management techniques. 

The CareClinic app is also a great way to keep track of chronic pain over an extended period of time. There is a diary function and a daily check-in function which allows for patients to record how they feel simply by scrolling a slider.

migraine headache symptom tracker    new migraine treatment tracker

The app allows patients to connect with their family doctor, caregiver or a family member and share personalized care-plans. This way, your doctor, family and caregivers will be able to see how you are feeling and how your treatment plan is going at all times.

CareClinic can also greatly assist doctors when trying to make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan. Doctors are able to access an accurate and detailed recount of their patient’s pain history and understand the following:

  • What type of pain it is that the patient may be experiencing (acute, chronic, describing)
  • The site and area in which the patient is experiencing the pain
  • What is triggering and what is relieving this pain
  • The times that the pain occurs throughout the day
  • How the patient understands their pain and how it affects their mood

Importance of migraine pain management

It is important to control and reduce pain, as being in a state of untreated chronic pain has a profound and negative impact on your quality of life.

The consequences of unchecked pain can include the following:

  • Increased levels of stress
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Sleep Disruption
  • Heightened anxiety and depression levels
  • A delay in the healing process

Recent studies have shown that sometimes healing can be delayed when pain that is caused by tissue damage is not relieved.

Uncontrolled pain has a negative effect on our body’s immune system and that constant pain can lower the body’s capacity to respond to situations such as: stress, surgeries, chemotherapy etc.

Consequences can be any of the above for unchecked pain but sometimes can be far-reaching. For example, neuropathic pain that is unrelieved can cause changes to the body’s nervous system. This can result in a contribution of further chronic pain long after the damage to that nerve has healed.

Maintaining constant communication with your care-team and making a ‘pain log‘ to track when pain is felt, how strong it is, and whether it’s recurring or not is crucial. This will allow for your care team to formulate care plans with pain management techniques that work for you and also help them to adjust your medication as needed.

It is important to make connections between various activities, events and weather changes, and the flare-ups of your pain. The more one will know about his/her condition, the more he/she will feel in control and thus be able to manage the existent pain in an effective manner.

A Pain Journal Lets You Feel in Control

With the help of the CareClinic personal journal feature, you will regain a sense of control over your condition and your life in general. A daily pain diary is excellent for figuring out patterns and identifying pain flare-ups. You can use it to create a self-care plan and enter information about weather changes, current diet, and level of physical activity.

As you will notice a regular pattern, you will find it easier to avoid triggers and various activities that might lead to pain. Not surprisingly, the application will also show you the things that are beneficial, so that you can include them more often in your daily routine.

You will get a better understanding of what works, opting for therapies that are more effective when it comes to pain relief.

Your pain diary should improve communication with the treating physician. It will help both of you find answers to questions about your manifestations. What is more, you will finally be able to take an active role in the actual pain management.

What kind of information should you add in the pain diary?

It is recommended that you create as many entries as needed daily. Frequent entries will provide a clearer perspective of your medical history over time. Many people prefer to stick to a regular schedule and enter their symptoms three times a day. As an example, you can make an entry in the morning, at noon and at night.

You can mention the location of the pain, how intense it was (rating scale is available), how often it appeared and how long it lasted. For each pain episode, you can mention whether it influenced daily activities; you can specify if you had difficulties sleeping or were unable to eat, work, etc. The diary can include information about current treatments and therapies, as well as any other kind of details you believe to be useful.

In making notes about pain episodes, you should not hesitate to be as descriptive as you can. You can describe the pain as “throbbing”, “burning”, “shooting”, “stabbing” or “pounding”. Also, try to notice if the pain has the tendency to move around and if there are other manifestations present. Enter all of these details into your daily pain diary and save them for future use.

Chronic pain therapies and migraine pain management

There are a large number of non-drug therapies which can help with relief of chronic pain. Natural alternatives to medication for chronic pain management is important. Non pharmacological pain management can be highly effective as chronic pain usually does not subside like acute pain does. Examples of non pharmacological pain management therapies include the following:

  • Psychotherapy: This form of therapy usually involves having sessions with a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist helps patients improve their understanding of pain. After gaining this understanding, the psychotherapist works with the patient to implement changes into their lifestyle. The changes aim to minimize pain intensity and build up pain resistance skills.
  • Relaxation Therapies: Relaxation therapies include a large number of varying relaxation techniques and exercises. The majority of these exist outside of traditional medication. People undergoing relaxation therapies may choose to engage in hypnosis, yoga, massage therapy, tai-chi and others.
  • Virtual Reality: There is a new and emerging trend of utilizing virtual therapy settings in order to help patients cope with chronic pain. This usually revolves around creating a serene environment and letting patients freely wander in this virtual environment. The goal is to allow patients to free their mind of their chronic pain. 
  • Physical Manipulation and acupuncture: Sometimes physiotherapists and/or chiropractors can help people relieve pain by manipulating tension from muscles within the body through the application of physical exercise and stretches
  • Rest: Chronic pain is sometimes due to a certain injury or consistently overworking a part of one’s body. At times, rest might be the best option to treat chronic pain.

Migraine pain prevention

Migraine pain prevention techniques include medications, nutritional supplements, changes to lifestyle and surgery. Individuals with migraines should also stop using tobacco and ensure they get enough sleep. Those who have headaches more than two days a week should ensure that they try to prevent their migraines. Those who cannot tolerate the medications or those with severe attacks should also practice migraine pain prevention techniques. The overuse of medications can actually worsen migraine pains. The goal is to reduce the frequency, painfulness, and duration of migraines.

CareClinic’s pain tracker functionality is one of the most used features of the app. It is helpful for those living with chronic pain and those that have been injured and need to report their pain to their care provider, whether it is a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. CareClinic can help you manage pain from within the mobile apps for iOS/iPhone or for Android, along with the web. Start tracking your pain, viewing your logs and reports, and discovering triggers for your pain.

Pain is a complex symptom and one that can reveal valuable information about your health status. When you use a health app such as CareClinic to track your pain, you are gathering information about its intensity, frequency and potential triggers. The more you and your doctor know about your pain, the easier it will be to address the underlying issue.

CareClinic, a free health app for migraine pain management

The advent of technologies such as CareClinic’s health management platform can assist patients in bettering the chances of successfully managing their pain in a more efficient manner.

The CareClinic app delivers the pinnacle of convenience, as an all in one health management application which delivers health solutions right through one’s phone. The simple-to-use app has easily navigated functionalities designed to suit every patient’s needs.

CareClinic’s all in one health management app can help track, manage and improve health outcomes for patients dealing with either acute or chronic pain. The easy to use functionality allows for patients to track pain daily.

The simple to use measurement input methods allow for patients to easily check-in with the app daily. Their care-team is also able to communicate with patients through the app. This way doctors can be notified and kept up to date on their patients 24/7.

Patients are also able to keep track of exactly how they are feeling and trace the source of their pain better through using the app. No longer do patients have to rely on gathering notes, asking friends and family, or gathering their memories to describe their pain.

They can easily track it down on their phone and connect with their trusted care-team in order to stay safe all the time.

Here’s a quick video about pain and pain management techniques when living with chronic pain:

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Alexandra V.