How Migraine Medications Can Help

Use the chart below to learn about the various migraine medications available to help ease your migraine symptoms.

By
Health Monitor Staff
Migraine Medications, Migraines

Great news: Your chances of getting life-changing relief from migraines are better than ever, thanks to a growing number of treatment options, including proven ways to prevent migraines, according to the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.

Preventive therapies calm your hypersensitive nervous system so you experience fewer flare-ups. When a migraine does occur, it is usually less intense. Of course, during an episode, you can still turn to acute medications to help ease the pain quickly. Ask your healthcare provider about the medications in the chart below to find the right approach for you.

Antiepileptic (divalproex sodium, sodium valproate, topiramate)
How it’s given: pill or syrup
How it works: stabilizes nerve cells in the brain, making them less easily activated

Antidepressant (amitriptyline, venlafaxine)
How it’s given: pill
How it works: boosts levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which helps calm the nervous system

Beta-blocker (metoprolol, propranolol, timolol)
How it’s given: pill or injection
How it works: blocks the release of stress hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline, which can trigger migraines

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (fenoprofen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen)
How it’s given: pill, oral solution, injection
How it works: relieves inflammation and pain; these medications are often prescribed on a short-term basis to women with menstrual migraines and patients who are suffering from other types of pain, such as back and/or neck

Onabotulinum toxin A (a purified organic product) *for Chronic Migraine only  
How it’s given: injection (in a few locations)
How it works: quiets hyperactive nerve cells; blocks muscle contractions in the head, neck and face; and blocks the release of inflammatory chemicals associated with migraine pain

Triptan (frovatriptan for short-term prevention of menstrual migraines)
How it’s given: injection, nasal spray, pill
How it works: Prevents nerves on the surface of the brain from transmitting pain signals, reduces inflammation and shrinks swollen blood vessels

Antinausea (metoclopramide, prochlorperazine)             
How it’s given:
pill, liquid, suppository
How it works: relieves nausea and migraine pain

Dihydroergotamine (DHE)
How it’s given:
injection or nasal spray
How it works: blocks pain, reduces inflammation and shrinks swollen blood vessels

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (acetaminophen, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen)            
How it’s given:
pill, oral solution, injection         
How it works: relieves inflammation and pain

Triptan/NSAID combination (sumatriptan and naproxen sodium)            
How it’s given:
pill
How it works: relieves inflammation, blocks pain and shrinks swollen blood vessels

Triptan (almotriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, sumatriptan) 
How it’s given: injection, nasal spray, pill            
How it works: prevents nerves on the surface of the brain from transmitting pain signals, reduces inflammation and shrinks swollen blood vessels

Published
January 2014