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Current Treatments For Migraine Headaches Essay

1749 words - 7 pages

It is widely believed that in order for an individual to feel pain, there must be some degree of physical damage. This is one of the greatest falsehoods in the study of pain, as there are many painful experiences that are not related to any known physical damage and that do not have an evident or ultimate cause (Wall & Melzack, 2008). Migraine is one example of a disorder that affects one tenth of the population and generally does not have an evident or definite known cause at this point in the history of research. Not only is there very little known about the origins of migraine pain, but there has also been much deliberation regarding defining migraine in clinical terms. One generally acceptable definition states that an individual is said to have migraine if he or she suffers five or more headache attacks that interfere with daily living activities and that last anywhere between four and seventy-two hours straight. These headache attacks are said to be unprovoked, meaning there is no identifiable reason for headache symptoms to appear (Rothrock, 2008).
There are multiple variations of migraine such as classic migraine, common migraine, and cluster headaches; all of which can be accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and or sound, and aura. Aura, is a visual symptom that can sometimes accompany migraine causing the individual to see blind spots or flashes of light during a headache attack. Symptoms of migraine can vary, and unfortunately what causes these symptoms and disorder are unknown (Rothrock, 2008). Researchers in the past suspected that the origin of migraine pain was associated with changes in blood vessels which supply the brain. Current research has led us to believe that changes in blood vessels are more likely the result of a migraine rather than the root cause (Wall & Melzack, 2008). Today, researchers believe that migraine may be caused genetically by neurons from the central nervous system that come into contact with stimuli from the external environment and may trigger neurons to induce pain pathways and signals in the brain causing a pain signal (Rothrock, 2008). It is important for researchers to develop a greater understanding of what causes migraine because understanding the cause is key to determining which route of treatment is the best for the individual.
Prior to considering treatment options, it is important for patients to go through the process of diagnosis in which a physician verifies the patients’ history and performs a physical assessment in order to rule out other disorders and conditions. There are many disorders that have similar symptoms to migraine such as trigeminal neuralgias, meningitis, or even the development of a tumor (Peatfield, 1999). For individuals who choose to go with the pharmacological path of treatment, there are two different categories of medicinal options; acute pain relievers and prophylactic, or preventative drugs. Acute medications are used to treat migraine patients because they...

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