Migraine Treatments: Diagnosis and Reducing Pain Steps

The choice of treatment is tailored to the individual's specific headache characteristics, medical history, and treatment response.

Migraine treatment and diagnosis revolve around managing symptoms and preventing future attacks. Diagnosis is often clinical, based on a constellation of signs and symptoms, and can be aided by criteria from the International Headache Society.


If you're experiencing migraine headaches, it's crucial to undergo a proper diagnostic process to ensure you receive the most effective treatment. Here's how healthcare professionals typically approach diagnosing migraines:

  1. Detailed Consultation: Initially, your doctor will conduct a thorough interview to understand your headache patterns, symptoms, and any associated features like aura, nausea, or sensitivity to light and sound.
    This discussion helps in identifying the characteristics of your migraines.
  1. Neuroimaging Tests: In certain situations, especially if your headaches have unusual features or a sudden onset, your doctor may recommend neuroimaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan.
    These tests are not typically needed for a migraine diagnosis but are done to exclude other potential causes of your symptoms.
  1. Physical and Neurological Examination: Besides the above methods, a physical and neurological examination can be crucial. Your doctor will check for any physical signs or neurological abnormalities that might be linked to your headaches.
    This examination helps ensure that your migraines are not symptoms of other underlying conditions.

Click pharmacy also can help to you.

As a certified UK online pharmacy, we can assist you with diagnosis and the initial steps for diagnosing. If you are experiencing migraines, you can start by completing a short medical assessment.


Medications aimed at alleviating migraine pain are most effective when administered at the onset of symptoms — immediately as signs of a migraine appear. Treatments available for this purpose encompass:

  • Preventive Medications: These are used regularly to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Common options include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, antiseizure medications, and Botox injections.
    Each has its mechanism of action and potential side effects, and their effectiveness can vary from person to person.

  • Acute Treatments: For moderate to severe migraines, triptans are the first-line treatment. Sumatriptan, Imigran, Maxalt Melt (Rizatriptan), and Zomig (Zolmitriptan) are part of this class, blocking pain pathways in the brain. NSAIDs and acetaminophen are options for milder migraines.
    Ergotamines and antiemetics can be used for more severe cases or when triptans are not effective.

  • Non-Medication Relief: When medications are not available, strategies include identifying and avoiding migraine triggers, relaxation techniques, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and applying cold compresses.
    Non-invasive nerve stimulation devices and lifestyle adjustments, such as diet changes and stress management, can also be effective.

It's crucial to identify what works best for you through trial and observation, and always consult a healthcare professional for guidance tailored to your specific situation. Remember, if your current treatment plan isn't providing the relief you need, there may be other options available to explore.

Medications for relief

Acute treatments for migraines are most effective when administered at the onset of symptoms. These treatments include a variety of medications aimed at providing relief during a migraine episode:

  • NSAIDs and Analgesics: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, along with analgesics like acetaminophen, are often used for milder migraines. However, prolonged use may lead to medication-overuse headaches and gastrointestinal issues.

  • Triptans: Triptans, including sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra), rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT), are the primary treatment for moderate to severe migraines. They work by blocking pain pathways in the brain and are available in various forms, such as pills, injections, and nasal sprays. Triptans may not be suitable for individuals with a risk of stroke or heart attack due to their vasoconstrictive properties.

  • Dihydroergotamine: Available as a nasal spray or injection, dihydroergotamine is effective when taken early in the migraine process, particularly for migraines lasting longer than 24 hours. Its use is contraindicated in individuals with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or kidney or liver disease.

  • Lasmiditan (Reyvow): A newer oral treatment approved for migraine with or without aura, lasmiditan has shown significant improvement in headache pain. It can cause sedation and dizziness; therefore, patients are advised not to drive or operate machinery for at least eight hours after taking it.

  • Gepants: Ubrogepant (Ubrelvy) and rimegepant (Nurtec ODT) are oral CGRP receptor antagonists approved for acute migraine treatment in adults. They have been effective in relieving pain and migraine symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, with common side effects including dry mouth and nausea.

  • Intranasal Zavegepant (Zavzpret): Recently approved by the FDA, this nasal spray provides relief within 15 minutes to 2 hours after administration and can continue working for up to 48 hours. It also improves other migraine-related symptoms.

  • Opioid Medications: These may be considered for individuals who cannot take other migraine medications, but due to their high addictive potential, they are typically a last resort.

  • Anti-nausea Drugs: For those experiencing nausea and vomiting with their migraines, anti-nausea medications such as chlorpromazine, metoclopramide (Reglan), or prochlorperazine (Compazine) can be beneficial, often taken alongside pain medications.

It's important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new medication, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those who are pregnant or trying to conceive, to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the treatment plan.

Preventive Medications

Migraine prevention involves the use of various medications aimed at reducing the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine attacks. Here's a detailed overview of the primary categories of preventive medications:

Antiepileptic Drugs

  • Topiramate and divalproex sodium (valproate sodium) are endorsed by health authorities in the UK for the prevention of migraines. They have been shown to effectively decrease the frequency of migraine episodes.

Antihypertensive Medications

  • Beta-blockers (propranolol, timolol) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors such as lisinopril and candesartan have also shown efficacy in migraine prevention.


  • Amitriptyline and other antidepressants can be used as second-line options due to their lower efficacy or less well-published evidence.

Injection Therapies

  • OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) is approved for the prevention of chronic migraine.

CGRP Antagonists

  • Newer medications targeting calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) show promise in migraine prevention.

Additional Options

  • Supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and butterbur root extract (Petasites) may be beneficial as adjuncts to traditional therapy.

New Medications

  • Recent research includes the development of new sumatriptan formulations and exploration of new classes of drugs for acute migraine treatment, such as ditans and gepants, which do not cause vasoconstriction, offering advantages over existing treatment modalities.

The individual needs of the patient, including the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, as well as any comorbid conditions, should be considered when choosing preventive treatment.

Non-Medication Relief

Non-medication relief strategies for migraine should be considered when access to medications is not available, or for those who prefer to avoid pharmaceutical treatments.

However, it's important to remember that while these methods can be helpful, they do not replace traditional medical treatments but can be beneficial alongside them. Here's a detailed overview:


Massage therapy may reduce migraine frequency by increasing serotonin levels, although evidence is limited. It's generally safe with a low risk of side effects.

Ice Packs and Local Scalp Pressure

Applying an ice pack and local scalp pressure can offer temporary relief from migraine pain. An elastic band with firm rubber discs under it can be used to apply pressure over the area of maximum pain, providing significant relief in many cases.

Lifestyle Changes

Natural or integrative remedies like aerobic exercise, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, cognitive therapies, acupuncture, and dietary supplements (magnesium, CoQ10, butterbur, feverfew) may help when used alongside traditional treatments.

Manual Therapies

Manual therapies, including physiotherapy, chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy, and relaxation, might be equally effective as some pharmaceutical options like propranolol and topiramate in the prophylactic management of migraine.

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatment options like relaxation training, thermal biofeedback combined with relaxation training, electromyographic feedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy have good evidence supporting their use in migraine prevention.


Nutraceutical treatment, which includes taking vitamins and supplements (magnesium, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and alpha lipoic acid) and herbal preparations (feverfew and butterbur), is frequently chosen due to dissatisfaction with conventional medical therapies.

While these non-medication relief strategies can be effective, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach tailored to your specific situation and to ensure that these methods are used safely and effectively alongside any necessary medical treatments.

Reducing Pain Steps

To effectively manage pain, especially when access to medications is not possible, here are simple and potentially effective steps to consider:

  1. Initiate Deep Breathing: Start by focusing on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This can help reduce the immediate feeling of pain.

  2. Apply Cold Therapy: For acute pain or inflammation, apply a cold pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every hour to decrease blood flow and numb the area.

  3. Switch to Heat Therapy: After 48 hours, or for chronic pain, switch to heat therapy. Apply a warm compress or heating pad to the affected area to relax muscles and increase blood circulation.

  4. Engage in Gentle Movement: Slowly introduce gentle exercises like stretching, walking, or yoga. Movement can release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, and prevent muscle stiffness.

  5. Practice Mindfulness or Meditation: Dedicate time for mindfulness or meditation to manage the psychological aspects of pain. This can help decrease stress and alter the perception of pain.

  6. Try Visualization Techniques: Imagine a serene environment or visualize the pain decreasing with each breath. This mental diversion can reduce the sensation of pain.

  7. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish into your diet. Proper nutrition can support body healing and reduce pain levels.

  8. Ensure Adequate Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can exacerbate pain conditions, particularly headaches or muscle cramps.

  9. Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep helps the body repair and regenerate, which is crucial for pain management.

  10. Evaluate and Adjust Your Posture: Regularly check and correct your posture, especially if you sit for long periods. Poor posture can lead to muscle tension and pain.

Implementing these steps systematically can help manage pain without immediate reliance on medication. However, it's important to consult with healthcare professionals for chronic or severe pain to ensure a comprehensive approach to pain management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Given the comprehensive content on migraine diagnosis, treatment, and management strategies provided, let's address the FAQs to help readers quickly find answers to their most pressing questions about managing and alleviating migraines.

What helps migraines?

Preventive measures, accurate diagnosis, and tailored treatment plans are crucial. Medications, lifestyle adjustments, and identifying triggers can significantly help in managing migraines. Consultation with a healthcare professional is essential to choose the most effective strategy.

How to get rid of a migraine?

Immediate relief can often be achieved through acute treatments like NSAIDs, triptans, or specific migraine medications. Applying cold therapy and engaging in relaxation techniques may also help. It's important to start treatment as soon as symptoms appear.

How to stop a migraine?

Stopping a migraine involves a combination of preventive measures (such as medication and lifestyle changes) and acute treatments at the onset of symptoms. Identifying and avoiding triggers is also key to preventing attacks.

How to cure migraine permanently?

While there's currently no cure for migraines, effective management is possible through a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and possibly alternative therapies. Ongoing research continues to explore more permanent solutions.

How to help a migraine?

Help for migraines includes taking prescribed medication at the first sign of an attack, resting in a dark and quiet room, and applying cold packs to the head. Over-the-counter medications may also provide relief for some individuals.

How to treat a migraine?

Migraine treatment should be individualized, often involving both preventive and acute medications. Non-medication strategies such as lifestyle adjustments and avoiding known triggers are also important.

How to relieve migraine?

Relieving migraine pain can be achieved through acute medications, rest, hydration, and certain home remedies like cold compresses. Preventive treatments can reduce the frequency and severity of future attacks.

How do you get rid of a migraine headache? 

Getting rid of a migraine headache quickly involves taking prescribed acute medications as soon as symptoms start, resting in a comfortable, dark, and quiet environment, and staying hydrated.

How to get rid of a migraine fast?

The fastest way to relieve a migraine is to take acute treatment medications at the onset of symptoms. Other fast-acting remedies include applying cold therapy and engaging in relaxation techniques.

What to do for a migraine?

For a migraine, take prescribed medication immediately, rest in a dark and quiet place, stay hydrated, and apply cold or warm compresses as needed. Avoiding stress and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can also help.

What to do in migraine?

During a migraine, it's important to take your medication as prescribed, rest in a quiet and dark environment, apply a cold compress to your head, and try to sleep or relax.

How to deal with migraines?

Dealing with migraines involves a comprehensive approach that includes medication, lifestyle changes, identifying triggers, and possibly consulting with a headache specialist or a certified online pharmacy like Click Pharmacy for initial diagnosis steps.

How to ease a migraine?

Easing a migraine can involve taking prescribed medications, applying cold therapy, practicing relaxation techniques, and making lifestyle adjustments to avoid triggers. Consultation with a healthcare professional can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Sources and Useful Links

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)

European Pain Federation (EFIC)

British Pain Society (BPS)

Pain Relief Foundation

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)


The Pain Toolkit

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