5 Strategies for Talking with Your Doctor About Migraine Treatment

5 Strategies for Talking with Your Doctor About Migraine Treatment

This post is sponsored by Amgen. Currently, I only take Aimovig as an anti-CGRP pathway therapy for migraine prevention. Please read the important safety information in this post and consult your doctor for medical advice.

As someone living with chronic migraine, doctor appointments have always been a part of my life. Creating a successful care relationship with a doctor is important, but can take a lot of work.

I’ve had both successful and frustrating moments throughout my experiences as a patient. There are several things migraine patients can do to empower themselves to have more productive conversations with their doctors. To start, you can learn more about migraine on Amgen’s Know Migraine Mission website. In partnership with Amgen, and to help others living with migraine, I’ve put together a list of 5 strategies for talking with your doctor about migraine treatment.

1. Seek Help & Speak Up

Many migraine patients do not seek adequate help.1 There are many barriers to accessing care due to lack of knowledge as well as the stigma that prevents many people from getting the care they need.2 I talk to a lot of people about migraine and they always start it off as “I know I’m not as bad as you, but…” My first thought is, “Thank goodness!” but my next thought is, “If it is interfering with your life once a year, once a month, once a week, or every day, get checked out!” Don’t be afraid to proactively bring up your symptoms and the impact on your life to your doctor. It may help to talk to someone who knows about migraine treatment specifically, such as a neurologist who specializes in migraine. Many primary care providers also provide migraine treatments, if needed.

You can also ask someone to go to your appointment with you. Prior to COVID-19, my Mom went to most of my appointments with me. If that’s not possible, you can dial someone into the appointment through your phone speaker or video conference for extra support.

2. Create Goals

It’s taken years of practice to get comfortable taking control of my appointments and helping focus the conversation on my goals and questions. When I followed the doctor’s lead, I didn’t always get my questions answered. Now I am clear about my agenda from the beginning and my doctor adjusts her advice accordingly. Ask for what you need!

Examples of goals:

  • Physical goals: reduce the number of migraine days
  • Medical goals: explore if treatments are necessary, such as preventive migraine treatment options and acute medication
  • Life goals: miss less work and time with my family and friends

3. Seek Information

Don’t walk into an appointment uninformed. As a patient, being knowledgeable about chronic migraine treatment and symptom management is crucial. Between appointments, research information to understand the complexity of migraine to help inform your doctor visits and consider what questions to ask. During your appointment, ask questions until you understand everything your doctor is explaining. Migraine is a complex disease that is different for everyone.3,4

4. Partner with Your Doctor

It’s important to find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable. I’ve had doctors who I’ve found intimidating and cold, and I now have a compassionate doctor who listens and cares about me. It makes a difference! If your doctor doesn’t feel like a good fit, keep looking and find someone you click with.

A key component of your doctor’s role is to identify and explain the treatment options available for you. There is no “one size fits all” for migraine treatment. There are also migraine medications that have become available in the last few years. I encourage you to discuss these medications to see if they may be right for you and ask your doctor about common side effects.

As a patient, you have the choice to passively agree to your doctor’s choice of treatment or partner in the decision. Your doctor should communicate information on all relevant treatment options and their benefits and risks. There should be a two-way exchange of information and both of you should agree on the decision. This allows both the patient and the doctor to be involved in the treatment decision. A discussion of treatment preferences and rationale allows for the selection of appropriate treatment.

5. Follow Migraine Treatment Plan and Check-in Regularly with Doctor

My migraine treatment plan includes taking Aimovig®(erenumab-aooe) –an injection used for the preventive treatment of migraine in adults. Do not use Aimovig if you are allergic to erenumab-aooeor any ingredients in Aimovig. Please see additional important Safety Information below.

Before, or in between, appointments, it’s helpful to keep notes of symptoms, triggers, and treatments. I also keep track of the number of migraine days I have in a month, and if I missed any days of work. You can easily track your migraine with a daily text at mydailytracker.com. Of course, you can also keep track in your notebook or smartphone.

You can learn more about my experience in my post How a Preventative Treatment for Migraine has Worked for Me. Following my treatment plan means that I should manage my prescription refills and take my medication as prescribed. I also keep notes of my migraine days, how well the medicine is working, and any potential side effects to share with my doctor.

You have a right to give your doctor feedback about your symptoms and treatment journey. Talk openly and honestly about how you are feeling. But if things aren’t working, don’t be afraid to speak up. Toward the end of the appointment, summarize your understanding of the takeaways. Don’t walk away with questions.

Once you’ve implemented your migraine management plan, be sure to check in with your doctor. Life and bodies change and so can treatment plans. Keep an open mind each time you walk in and out of an appointment. Collaboration with your doctor will help you to have the best possible migraine management plan.

APPROVED USE

Aimovig®(erenumab-aooe) is a prescription medicine used for the preventive treatment of migraine in adults.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Who should not use Aimovig®?

Do not use Aimovig® if you are allergic to erenumab-aooe or any ingredients in Aimovig®.

Before starting Aimovig®, tell your healthcare provider (HCP) about all your medical conditions, including if you are allergic to rubber or latex, pregnant or plan to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to breastfeed. Tell your HCP about all the medicines you take, including any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.

What are the possible side effects of Aimovig®?

Aimovig® may cause serious side effects, including:
  • Allergic reactions. Allergic reactions, including rash or swelling, can happen after receivingAimovig®. This can happen within hours to days after using Aimovig®. Call your HCP or get emergency medical help right away if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction: swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat, or trouble breathing.
  •  Constipation with serious complications. Severe constipation can happen after receivingAimovig®. In some cases, people have been hospitalized or needed surgery. Contact your HCP if you have severe constipation.
  •  High blood pressure. High blood pressure or worsening of high blood pressure can happen after receiving Aimovig®. Contact your healthcare provider if you have an increase in blood pressure.

The most common side effects of Aimovig® are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site and constipation.

These are not all of the possible side effects of Aimovig®. Call your HCP for medical advice about side effects.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Click here for full Prescribing Information and Patient Product Information

References:

  1. .Kelman L. The triggers or precipitant of the acute migraine attack. Cephalagia. 2007; 27 (5): 394-402.
  2. Rutberg S, OhrlingK. Migraine –more than a headache: Women’s experiences of living with migraine. Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(4):329-336.
  3. Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalalgia. 2018;38(1):1-211
  4. Lipton R, Bigal M, Diamond M, et al. Migraine prevalence, disease burden, and the need for preventive therapy. Neurology. 2007;68(5):343-349.

 

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Sarah Rathsack

I tell stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. My kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate me to make a difference in the Migraine World.

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