There is currently no cure for migraine. I’ve heard this from experts, read it, wrote about it, and spent the last year coming to terms with it. After two years of having pain more days than not and being routinely disappointed by treatment options I hoped would provide drastic change, learning to lessen my pain with a variety of tried and true strategies and not wasting my energy chasing after “cures” or miracles has seemed like the best recipe for stability and happiness.
But then some self-appointed migraine experts came into my field of vision and said WAIT, you are WRONG!
The first called me *ahem* “bitter, deranged, hopeless, misled, and selfish,” and challenged the current mantra that migraine is an inherited disease for which there is no cure. A visit to this person’s website offered maybe-not-so-far-fetched big pharma conspiracy theories, claims that the current mainstream approach to migraine treatment is evil, and a lot of strong words written in stress-inducing CAPS!
The second claimed that the mechanism for migraine has in fact been discovered and it’s related exclusively to proper hydration!
Both suggest that migraineurs should buy their books in order to get the answers.
Despite the respective adversarial and simplistic claims of these two self-appointed experts, their attempted interventions did give me pause. My brain began to churn: Am I standing in my own way by not entertaining the possibility that random doctors on the web have the answers? Should I actually be making room for every unconventional solution that crosses my path? Should I be trying to acquire every migraine book out there? After much thought, I have answered these anxious ponderings with a resounding no for the following reasons:
1) There aren’t enough days in a lifetime to try every single migraine treatment or strategy out there. Giving each medication, manual therapy, lifestyle change, dietary restriction, supplement, or mindfulness technique a fair chance takes time, and trying too many things at once can mean added stress and confusion, not to mention an empty wallet.
2) For me, a large part of feeling supported is being able to instil a certain amount of trust in the headache specialist who gives me advice, sticks me with needles, and occasionally prescribes me some new medication. Some of these things have been helpful and I’m not willing to let go of this aspect of my support system in favour of random internet advisors who think Western medicine has absolutely no purpose to serve in migraine treatment.
3) At this point in my research, I have only come across treatments that work for some migraineurs and not others. Thus, I have a right to be skeptical when I’m told that a magical thing worked for other people and will absolutely, positively work for me too.
I hope that these self-appointed experts are intelligent and knowledgeable people who believe in what they are doing and are not just preying on migraineurs to make a buck. I think they probably have found something that works for them and some, perhaps many, of their followers. That’s fantastic! My problem with their approach is this:
Claiming to have the answers when your only credibility lies in the testimonies of a handful of patients reeks of snake oil. If you have the answers, great! Do some peer-reviewed studies and get them published. Garner the support of your colleagues. Reach out to the medical community and spread awareness of your successful treatment approaches. But please, please, do not promise a magical solution based on little evidence, do not suggest that we are simply not trying hard enough by saying your program is “for people who are serious about ending their migraines”, and do not attack me when I am doing the best I can with the information I have.
A cure would be the complete elimination of hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli following a treatment that can be used for a limited time and then discontinued. Someone truly cured of migraine would no longer need to avoid triggers. They could stay up late, skip meals, eat foods containing MSG, and drink a glass of wine without fear that it would trigger a migraine. This is not possible right now.
From now on, if I come across someone, anyone offering a “cure”,”miracle” or a sparkly one-size-fits-all approach, I will tread with caution, or maybe even walk away, and I feel totally good about that.
On the other hand, when I come across seemingly credible sources who have the support and recognition of leaders in the field of pain management (such as Dr. Peter Goadsby in this video about an actual potential cure), I pledge to sit up and take notice.