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Dr. Morton Hyson unveiled his new Migraine and headache treatment on February 9th at the Annual Practicing Physician’s Approach to the Difficult Headache Patient conference. His system proportedly resolves a Migraine (head pain and other symptoms) in minutes (read his research. The average time for relief was 40 minutes) instead of the hours some triptans take.

His system is described as

the only treatment to address simultaneously headache pain, nausea and light sensitivity.

As many of us know, this statement is false. Many of the triptans, such as Maxalt®, IMITREX, TREXIMET, and ZOMIG, also relieve the Migraineur of nausea, photosensitivity, and phonosensitivity.

You may be wondering what is this therapeutic, side-effect free, medical marvel. Well…it is a form-fitting face mask and a topical analgesic cream that is applied to the forehead and temples.

The press release included a link to Dr. Hyson’s website, which is little more than claims, pictures of smiling women, and testimonials. Oh, BTW, the cost is $57.00 for 10 applications or $100.00 for 30. Yikes!

Here is yet another promise of relief that doesn’t do much other than line the hawker’s pocket. Steer clear of this one.

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Headache on the Hill

AHDAlogoThe second  Headache on the Hill will be held in Washington, DC next Monday and Tuesday, February 23rd and 24th. The long-term goal of AHDA is to have the National Institutes of Health increase its spending for research for Migraine and other headache disorders. This event’s purpose is

to educate members of Congress and their staff about the problem of NIH underfinding of headache research and to suggest remedies.

In addition,

we intend to make specific progammatic requests of Congress during HOH that should have lasting benefits but that will require relatively modest short-term increases in NIH expenditures.

This particular HOH is important because we have a new president and a Democratic Congress who promise action an a variety of legislative actions.
What can you do to help? Join AHDA’s mailing list and you will receive legislative alerts when it is appropriate to contact your Congressman.

Pain Does Not a Migraine Make

photo courtesy of All About Migraine

photo courtesy of All About Migraine

So often the image of a Migraine is a woman, like the one to the left, rubbing her head and with her brow knit in severe pain. I had a Migraine today. It was different from the usual “Where is the nearest cave so I can die in peace?” type Migraines. In fact, if I had told someone that I had a Migraine, I am not sure how believable I would have sounded. It was different because my head didn’t hurt that much.

 However, I couldn’t work. I couldn’t focus on what I was doing. I was lethargic; all I wanted to do was curl up in a chair with a cup of tea and be a vegetable for a while. Oh, even though I swore I would not take a triptan unless my pain exceeded a 5, I succumbed to both the triptan and my awaiting chair.

All this got me thinking. Migraineurs rightly say that Migraine is NOT a bad headache, but when I ran a search for Migraine images nearly all of them emphasized the head pain. I am wondering if the image of Migraine as being “just a bad headache” would change if Migraineurs, doctors, and drug companies would emphasize some of the other common symptoms. Just a thought; what do you think?

I promised Parin that I would address this topic again and explain my point a bit clearer. It all comes down to semantics of the words dependence and addiction. I hope that it is sufficient to say that some medical websites use the words interchangeably, referring to the physiological need for a particular drug. For instance, here is the definition of dependence taken from the e-Medicine Health (a part of WebMD.com) website:

Drug dependence is the body’s physical need, or addiction, to a specific agent. Over the long term, this dependence results in physical harm, behavior problems, and association with people who also abuse drugs. Stopping the use of the drug can result in a specific withdrawal syndrome.

The Mayo Clinic also uses these words interchangeably. I think that for consistency, dependence should refer to physiological need and addiction should add the characteristics of psychological need and drug seeking behaviors.

To answer Parin’s question, no I would not consider someone taking insulin or thyroid medicine addicted or dependent because neither are drugs, but rather replacements for a hormone that is missing.

Getting back to the article. The author’s headline is down-right WRONG on 2 points. First, neither of these drugs (Fiorinal and Percocet) are Migraine drugs. The FDA has not approved their use in the treatment of acute Migraine, although some physicians prescribe them as Migraine rescue drugs.

As I stated in the original post, these medications carry with them a double whammy. Not only can unwary Migraineurs develop medication overuse headaches (MOH), but they also run the risk of becoming dependent on the butalbital in Fiorinal or the oxycodone in Percocet.


headacheblogcarnivallogoI am late (as usual) with this month’s Blog Carnival post. I have been pondering the original title, What Keeps You Going and came up with many answers: ice, dark room, good drugs, knowing someone else understands, but all of these seemed to fall short. And then it hit me; there is no “what” that keeps me going, but a “who” (not the Horton kind).

God keeps me going, even when I want to throw in the towel. He was there when I lost my job, when I wished I had cancer instead because that would kill me, and when I had given up hope of ever feeling good again. For years I prayed that the Migraines would go away forever, but because that has not happened, I thought He wasn’t listening. So I prayed LOUDER: ARE YOU THERE? DO YOU CARE? 

Years passed without a miracle and without even an effective preventative. I was resigned to a life of pain. Where was God? I don’t know. Absent? Distant? Then I heard these words from How Firm a Foundation

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

Then I realized that He was there and cared very much about my pain. So in the middle of the night with my ice pack on my head, I sing or think those words. I know He is there and will get me through the night.

 

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This post is in response to Arabella’s post regarding the difference between medication overuse headache (MOH) and addiction. We are both responding to redOrbit’s article Migraine Meds Can Become Addictive  (BTW, the original AP article is better. Thanks, Parin). What followed was not on addiction, but on medication overuse headaches (MOH) or rebound headaches. These headaches occur when the culprit medication wears off and a severe headache occurs.

RedOrbit’s headline conjures images of Migraineurs sneaking out at night in dark alleys looking for their next fix. This is unfortunate because there is some truth to it. Anyone who takes a medication runs a risk in becoming addicted or dependent. This is NOT the same as abusing the drug. That is a whole other ball of wax.

In the medical community addiction or drug dependence means

is a state in which the body relies on a substance for normal functioning and develops physical dependence, as in drug addiction. When the drug or substance on which someone is dependent is suddenly removed, it will cause withdrawal, a characteristic set of signs and symptoms

It doesn’t mean that the person is liable to engage in dangerous behaviors to get another “fix”. That is drug abuse. Indeed, for most patients on pain medication, the fix is not necessarily just euphoria, but pain relief. And that certainly brings a sense of well-being.

There are many pain relievers that have the potential to cause drug dependence. Two of these are mentioned in the redOrbit article: Fiorial and Percocet. Fiorinal is a combination of three drugs: butalbital, aspirin, and caffeine. Butalbital is a sedative barbiturate that slows down the central nervous system. Patients can become dependent on butalbital and may find themselves taking Fiorinal more frequently just to function.

There is a double whammy in Fiorinal in that the butalbital can cause dependence; the aspirin and the caffeine can cause medication overuse headaches. So the woman highlighted in the article may have had both drug dependence and MOHs.

The same is true for Percocet. It is a similar drug prescribed for pain. It contains oxycodone and acetominephin. Oxycodone is an opoid narcotic pain reliever, similar to morphine. Acetominephin (Tylenol®) is a milder analgesic and enhances the pain relieving properties of oxycodone. Like butalbital, oxycodone can cause drug dependence, especially if taken more frequently than prescribed. The acetominephin can be the culprit in medication overuse headaches.

So it appears that drugs that combine a barbiturate or an opioid analgesic with aspirin, caffeine, or acetominephin carries the risk of both drug dependence (addiction) and medication overuse headaches. It does NOT necessarily lead to drug abuse.

Have an AWAP day,

Debbie

Photo courtesy of http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/d/d7/VariousPills.JPG

A Merry Christmas to All

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas to all my readers. I don’t know who most of you are, but I appreciate your time and effort. I thoroughly enjoy researching information about Migraine disease, debunking myths, and educating people about Migraine.

I want to thank some special people who have hung together this year: Teri Robert from HealthCentral for her efforts in bringing us the latest information on Migraine, Ellen Schnakenburg from WegoHealth for her support, Diana Lee from Somebody Heal Me for the Blog Carnivals, Megan Oltman from Free My Brain, Arabella from Migraine Truth, and the many other Migraine bloggers out there. You keep me going; you give me hope. Thanks so much. I pray that you had a blessed Christmas surrounded by family and friends. I had 3 of my 4 boys at home this year.

A teacher in Raleigh

Andrew a college studentMatthewHere are the 3: Stephen, a teacher in Raleigh; Andrew, a college student; Matthew, Marine reservist. It was great having them home.