Women’s Health: New migraine drugs and devices are game changers for some patients


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)—40 million people in the United States deal with migraines. The invisible illness affects three times as many women than men. There is no cure for migraine, but Dr. Charles Argoff says we’re in a renaissance of new treatments, therapies and approaches to managing the disease.

“It’s an embarrassment of riches of how many wonderful treatments there are both medical and non-medical so it’s so important to make the proper diagnosis,” said Dr. Argoff, Director of the Comprehensive Pain Center at Albany Medical Center.

Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by debilitating headaches. “A headache that’s so bad, you don’t want to move your head. Pain in your face that’s associated with nausea, throbbing, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity,” Argoff explained.

Migraine can affect everyone differently, which can lead to misdiagnosis. “You can be diagnosed as having sinus headaches or having a tension headache when really, you have migraine,” Argoff said.

Dr. Argoff says many suffer in silence and now is the time to speak up, educate yourself, and seek care. Botox has long been an effective and safe treatment for chronic migraine, but new treatments target a neurotransmitter called CGRP. “That’s the evil neurotransmitter when it comes to what’s associated with migraine. It’s released everywhere migraines are experienced in the brain and we can block it with antibodies.”

The treatment can be delivered through IV or taken as a once monthly shot. “And just last week on an oral medicine that blocks the CGRP receptor was FDA approved as another preventative agent,” said Dr. Argoff.

And there are new FDA approved non-medical devices you can wear, like the Cefaly.

“It’s worn across your head and it electrically stimulates certain nerves, super orbital nerves, that are involved in migraine mechanisms. There’s another one called Nerivio, which activates other circuits through an armband that’s used remotely with an iPhone or an Android system you can turn on that signals to your nervous system natural ways to dampen your pain,” he said.

You don’t have to choose one or the other. Dr. Argoff says the beauty is you can integrate these treatments and find what works for you. “Be more comfortable, more productive, enjoy your life, and not have to miss work family activities. It’s a really refreshing and wonderful experience,” he said.

An exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it often runs in families. Providers can now offer a simple, three question test that can diagnose migraine with more than 90% accuracy.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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