Understanding and Treating Chronic Migraines


April 1, 2021

If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, you know how debilitating and painful they can be. For those with a chronic migraine condition, the pain can make it difficult to function in your daily life. Understanding what exactly a migraine is, and when they’re considered chronic, can be difficult. Knowing the causes and how to treat them can be even harder. This quick guide breaks down everything you need to know about chronic migraines, as well as your next steps if you believe you have them.

What Is Chronic Migraine?

Chronic migraine is a condition that causes 15 or more migraine days per month. A migraine headache has many symptoms, each of which can cause distress.  If you experience two or more of these symptoms together, you may be having a migraine:

  • Intense, throbbing, or dull pain on one or both sides of the head.
  • Pain that is exacerbated with movement and physical activity.
  • Sensitivity to light or visual auras.
  • Blurriness or blind spots in vision.
  • Nausea or vomiting, fatigue, or confusion.

The recurrence of these symptoms often enough to be categorized as chronic may be a sign of chronic migraines or another neurological disorder.

Causes of Chronic Migraine

There are many potential causes for chronic migraines.

  • Genetics. There are many genetic factors that can cause chronic migraines. Although these genes can be present in anyone, those who have family members with chronic migraines are more likely to develop them themselves.
  • Hormones. Imbalances of hormones in the body can cause migraines and pain. People with natural hormonal imbalances, women, and those on hormonal medication may be predisposed to chronic migraine.
  • Daily triggers. Lack of sleep, caffeine, stress, sensory stimulation, and hunger can all cause migraines to develop. Consistently experiencing these triggers may lead to chronic migraine.
  • Central nervous system disorder. Interrupted or blocked nerve pathways may trigger migraines, as can other central nervous system disorders.
  •  Vascular irregularities. Smooth blood flow in the brain is essential to your health. Discrepancies in the shape, size, or flow of the blood vessels in your brain can cause migraine.
  • Underlying conditions. Chronic migraines may develop as a symptom of other neurological conditions. Traumatic brain injury, inflammation or stroke, infection, brain tumors, and intracranial pressure changes can all lead to chronic migraine.

Treatment Options

Treating chronic migraine can include the use of both acute and long-term preventative methods. Taking pain-relieving medications during the onset of a migraine can lessen or avoid the pain of an episode. Over-the-counter drugs may help, but prescription medication is most effective. There are several preventative treatments to lessen the number of migraine days per month. Depending on the cause of your migraines, beta-blockers, neurological medications, or hormone pills may all be prescribed. Avoiding daily triggers is also an important approach. All migraine treatment should come from a doctor’s recommendation.

You shouldn’t have to live with the pain and discomfort chronic migraine can cause. With proper medical attention, your symptoms can be alleviated and allow you to start living life fully again. At Southeast Pain & Spine Care, we specialize in treating chronic pain.  Please feel free to contact us today to ask questions or make an appointment.