Opioids are not a good option to treat a migraine


I was reading this article that was about opioids and learned something that makes a lot of sense, opioids are not a good option to treat a migraine. In fact studies have found a relationship between taking opioids for a migraine and the progression of an acute migraine to a chronic migraine. The article I was reading was actually regarding a study looking into the prescribing habits of physicians where the authors found that physicians were still prescribing opiates for migraine at a rate the authors believe is too much.

A little background on this subject. I think we all know that there our country, actually the world, has this epidemic of opioid use to manage pain. Over the past 5 years there has been an increased attempt to reduce the number of patients who are prescribed opioids. There is a consensus of medical and physician groups which believe that opioids are over-prescribed, this includes treating patients with headaches including migraines. The results of this recent study were presented at the American Headache Society (AHS) Annual Meeting 2019.

In this study the authors assessed over 2000 patients with migraine headaches and found that 36% used opioids for acute or chronic migraine pain. Additionally the authors found that patients with migraines who used opioids were more likely to report one or more cardiovascular conditions, depression , or anxiety. This supports what other studies have noted which is opioid use is associated with elevation in markers of overall worse health. Meaning if you take opioids, especially to manage chronic pain, you will likely have other health issues. I am sure you have seen commercials for the drug that treats opioid induced constipation. Take an opioid get constipation, take another drug for that and then what, get another health condition which needs another drug? What kind of life is that?

Despite the increased awareness to reduce opioid use, this study shocked many physicians that so many migraine patients are still being prescribed opioids. As I mentioned there is an association between taking opioids for acute migraine and advancing to having a chronic migraine condition. Combined with the knowledge that opioid use for any condition is associated with additional health problems, opioids really should be the last option giving to a patient.

One option that many patients do not get from their physicians is a referral to a chiropractor. Chiropractic care has had success in treating patients with migraine headaches. We cannot help all patients, of course, be we absolutely cannot help the patients who never present to our practice.  If you are suffering with migraine headaches and opioids are your current or only option consider seeing a chiropractor. Specifically a chiropractor trained in the CBP technique.


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Posted in Neck Pain

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