Medical Edge: Managing Migraines

Created: 08/08/2013 6:46 PM KSTP.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For years, James Masanz's headaches were a 24-7 event.
"I was having two migraines a week and having headaches nearly daily," Masanz said. "I would come home from work and just go to sleep…As if someone was poking something in my left eye."
Frustrated, James went to Mayo Clinic where he met Dr. Robert Sheeler. Migraines are often more intense.
"Migraine is what we call a channelopathy.," Mayo Clinic's Dr. Robert Sheeler said. "There are excitatory neurotransmitter channels in the brain that are overactive and so migraine brain is sort of like a Ferrari. It's high performance but high maintenance and people with migraine have a lower threshold to trigger off a cascade of things that can end up with a host of symptoms, the last of which is a headache."
Treatment can be tricky. Dr. Sheeler says first he looks for the correct diagnosis. That information helps determine the type of medication that may work best.
Treatments range from over the counter analgesics such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to migraine specific prescription medications to antidepressants to mind/body techniques such as tai chi, meditation or yoga.
Dr. Sheeler says the key is to treat symptoms early and avoid things that may trigger headaches.
Medication and mind/body techniques have helped James gain control of his headaches.
"It's probably just one plain headache a week," Masanz said.
And now instead of battling pain, he's able to spend the afternoon enjoying time with his son Will.