5 Headache-busting Infusions for migraine

Home » 5 Headache-busting Infusions for migraine

Migraines affect about 39 million people in the USA alone, with relief often hard to come by. Infusions for migraine attack might be the answer, if your over-the-counter medications just don’t cut it anymore.

Let’s discuss 5 intravenous options, and how to get them!

Triptan Infusions

Intravenous infusion is a newer way to take triptans, and it is more effective than other methods. With intravenous infusion, the drug is delivered directly to the bloodstream, which allows it to work more quickly and effectively. This method is often used for people who have severe migraines who do not respond well to other treatments.

brain migraine graphic

Triptans generally are available in pill form, as injections, or as nasal sprays, and are used to treat migraines and cluster headaches. They work by narrowing blood vessels around the brain, which reduces swelling and pressure.

They are taken at the first sign of a migraine or headache, but they can also be taken preventatively.

DHE infusions for Migraine

Dihydroergotamine (DHE) is a medication that is used to treat migraines by reducing the inflammation and constriction of blood vessels in the brain.

It is also available as an intravenous (IV) infusion!

IV infusions of DHE can be given in a hospital or clinic setting, and these infusions are given over 30 minutes to 1 hour. DHE is generally well-tolerated, but some it’s been reported that some people have side effects like:

  • low blood pressure,
  • chest pain, and
  • irregular heartbeat

DHE is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If you have liver or kidney disease, you should talk to your doctor before using DHE.

Magnesium sulfate infusions

Magnesium sulfate is a versatile medication with a long history of effective use. It is known for its use in controlling seizures, or severe asthma attacks. It is thought that this compound inhibits nerve transmission, relaxing smooth muscle in the body.

Its onset is immediate when given as an IV, which can be a big relief during a severe migraine.

The most common side effects of magnesium sulfate include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea.

Lidocaine infusions

Lidocaine has typically been used as a local anesthetic to numb the skin, however, it’s also an effective option for neuropathic pain.

What is neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that is caused by damage or dysfunction of your nerves. It can be the result of an injury, disease, or other condition that affects nerves, like migraine. Neuropathic pain can be difficult to treat because it often does not respond well to traditional pain medications.

brain nerve pain

There are a variety of infusions that can be used to treat neuropathic pain, like Ketamine, which is a medication acting on your body’s NMDA receptors, that is typically used as an anesthetic. Ketamine infusions are another option for refractory chronic migraines, and can provide relief for weeks!

Back to our Lidocaine,

Lidocaine infusions are given over 30 to 60 minutes. As you sit or lay with the IV drip in your arm, you will feel many parts of your body become relaxed and pain-reduced because it acts across many nerves.

The most common side effects of intravenous lidocaine include drowsiness, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

It’s been found that lidocaine infusions can give lasting relief for migraine – sometimes months, and can be given repeatedly with little safety concern.

Dexamethasone infusions

Dexamethasone can be administered for many medical conditions, because it is a corticosteroid. This means it reduces inflammation and swelling very effectively, making it useful for asthma attacks, and autoimmune disorders, such as lupus. Dexamethasone can be taken by mouth or it can be given as an injection.

This study found something interesting about these infusions and migraine.

It seems that dexamethasone didn’t prove much different than placebo for the acute migraine sufferer, but the chance of a recurrent headache in the following days was much lower.

This could be because migraine may involve inflammatory pathways in the brain. More research is needed in this area.

As you can see, there are a variety of different migraine infusions that can be used to treat migraines, depending on your needs and tolerance to the different compounds.

What are the benefits of migraine infusions?

  • Fast medication delivery that bypasses your body breaking down the beneficial compounds
  • Reduced frequency of migraines for some sufferers
  • Reduced intensity of migraines for some sufferers

Why IV might not be suitable for you

  • You have an allergy to the compounds used
  • The treatments are not covered by your insurance policy
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have a serious medical condition that might be worsened by the infusion.

How to get Migraine Infusion therapy

If you’re considering migraine infusions, it’s best to speak with the relevant headache specialists to get more personalized migraine treatment. Severe headaches and migraine pain can be treated at headache centers, so you can avoid the stress of the emergency department.

migraine infusion doctor

Migraine is a complex disorder which can be caused by hormonal changes, or overactive nerve endings in the trigeminal nerve, among others.

Whats more, other headache disorders usually accompany migraine, like cluster headaches.

If you have refractory migraine (severe migraine not responding to usual home remedies like oral medications or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) ask your doctor about infusions.

What are the risks of IV migraine infusions?

There are potential risks associated with any type of medical treatment, and IV migraine infusions are no exception.

There may be:

  • Allergic reactions to the medication or other infusion components
  • Bleeding or bruising at the infusion site
  • Infection at the infusion site
  • Infusion-related headaches

How long does the relief from migraine infusions last?

Some people may find that their migraines return soon after their infusion, while others may enjoy weeks or months of migraine-free days. Everyone’s experience with migraines and their response to treatment is unique. However, many people who receive migraine infusions do find that they can reduce the frequency and intensity of their migraines over time.

How often can you get infusions for migraines?

You can get infusions regularly, such as with lidocaine therapy for migraines. These may be given weekly over a period of time. Most will require IV migraine therapy only every few months, or during intractable migraine.

What has your experience with infusions for migraines been like? How often do you get them? Let others know in the comments section so we can learn more about the treatment of migraine together, and help others get fast relief.

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Author Bio

Dr Jason Whealing headshot

Dr. Jason Whealing is a Chiropractor with extensive experience across the UK and Australia. He is passionate about family care and injury management. The cases Jason works with daily include back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, sciatica, knee pain, shoulder pain, headaches and migraine.

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