Fibromyalgia and Migraines, Part 3


Since migraines don’t have a brain of their own they try to use mine.  I don’t really blame them… it’s sure served me well.  But it’s mine!  And it’s done being used as an external hard drive for some freeloading, vomit-inducing, day-ending ailment.  So, when it comes time to fight a migraine I’ve got a… you guessed it… routine.  It’s a bit simple and a bit silly but I figured I’d share it anyway.

When I finally realize I’m getting a migraine, those of you who get them know what I mean, I feel a bit panicked and I get overwhelmed.  Then I remind myself to be calm and I keep doing whatever I’m doing.  The second time I feel panicked, it’s kinda like baking and the magic second smell, I tell Daniel I’ve got a killer headache on its way and he usually encourages me to take some meds.  If my vision is already blurry, I heed his advice and take 2 Aleve and 2 Tylenol.  (Or, since I don’t typically drink caffeine, sip a Coke or Pepsi.)

I know, I know.  Trust me, I know.  We monitor my liver closely, so please don’t lecture me.  Please.

If the headache is still in the preliminary stages I skip the meds and go straight for my stretches.  Sounds nerdy, eh? Delilah, my wonderful chiropractor, taught me some stretches to relax the muscles that most-often cause my migraines… and they work.  I’ve decided to spare you a silly-looking picture, so stick with me through my description.

I lay on my back and pike my legs into the air (or against a wall with my butt where the wall meets the floor).  After a few minutes I bring my legs closer to my body and hold that stretch.  I continue increasing the stretch until the refreshing stretching feeling turns to pain that doesn’t subside after a few seconds holding the stretch.  Then, with the help of Danny, I prop my hips up off the floor onto my hands and slowly roll my lower back down onto the ground.  This eases the tension in my lower back and gets my blood flowing again.  It kinda feels like the end of a yoga routine or something.  (If this all sounds a bit ridiculous to you, that’s fine.  You can always try just sitting in a pike and leaning forward.  I just find that doesn’t work as well for me.)

After this simple routine (it really is, even if my description is not) I get up slowly, to avoid getting dizzy, and sit on the couch for a few minutes.  Within five minutes my headache is almost always reduced from an “I can’t see, and I’m hearing double.” to the headache hangover I get the day after a migraine.  You know?  It feels like you’re recovering from a baseball bat beating to your skull and your brain is bruised.

Having said all this… I still swear by sleep.  If I’m not to bed within a half hour of my stretches my migraine will creep back into my brain and I’ll have to start the process over.  And for those times when the pain is so severe I can’t fall asleep (usually my stress-induced migraines), I take a muscle relaxer (also recommended by my chiropractor) that takes the edge off and helps me sleep.

And, speaking of sleep.  This strep stuff left me with two hours last night, so I’m off to get some.

What works for you?  I’d love to hear new ideas.

8 Responses

  • Amy on February 18, 2009, 23:58:48

    Hi Kate!

    I just posted an update on my blog about my trigger point injections. Maybe these could help you?!? So far…so good! So…maybe the pain from the injections will be worth it! I also do shoulder stands & the child’s pose (yoga) to help stretch the area. I also have a TENS unit that I put on my upper traps & turn them up on HIGH!

    Reply to Amy
  • Heather on February 19, 2009, 08:33:48

    Kate,

    I love your blog – the design is awesome, and you have a lot of useful things on here. My dad has fibromyalgia, and we both have migraines – I’ve been diagnosed with chronic daily headache and chronic migraine. Thanks for the info on the stretches – I’m going to have to try them. I wish I could give you tips, but I’m still trying to figure things out myself. I’m also a blogger (“War on Headaches”) and I write about my headache experiences. Check it out if you need ideas of ways to fight headaches. Different things work for different people, so you never know what might help you. I look forward to following your blog!

    -Heather
    @drummerheather (Twitter)

    Reply to Heather
  • Katie on February 19, 2009, 12:48:31

    At one appointment with my doctor last fall I told him I was getting wicked bad headaches that didn’t respond to Tylenol or Tramadol. After inquiring about what these headaches are like, he said they are migraines. Having read about the higher incidences of migraines in fibromyalgia patients, this wasn’t surprising. And I told my doctor about this incidence rate and that I’d never had a migraine before my fibromyalgia onset. The first suggestion for treating these migraines was to take Tylenol at the first inkling of an onset and drink a can of caffeinated soda, ASAP. This worked a few times, but ultimately left me looking for a different solution.
    With an active, busy and on-the-go lifestyle, I have to make sure that my best pain-fighters and therapies are “on-the-go” too. So now I use Excedrin Tension Headache (acetaminophen and caffeine) and it works great. [I would have used the Excedrin Migraine, but I can’t take aspirin or any NSAIDs.]
    That’s what I do… and so far it’s good, and I’m hoping it will stay that way.

    Reply to Katie
  • Tamicat on February 19, 2009, 14:21:02

    I can usually catch my headaches before they get into full-blown migraines. I’ve never tried stretching my lower back before. I usually focus on my neck & shoulders. Will have to try that next time. (Bummer that I know there will be a next time!)

    I’ve often talked about “headache hangovers”, but I think you’re the first person besides me! I still sometimes try to be “productive” on those days. I’m learning how to be more gentle to myself. Key word: learning!

    Reply to Tamicat
  • Valerie on March 8, 2009, 12:16:02

    I know exactly what you mean about the dread – I was on a job interview via phone while the nice woman was talking about the company and all I could think was don’t puke, don’t pass out, and I had a bunch of sweat streaming down my face as the migraine kicked in. I couldn’t do anything preventative as I had to finish up the call and ended up sleeping on the couch, cause I couldn’t make it upstairs to go to bed.

    I agree that if I don’t go to sleep the whole thing seems to just get worse.

    Reply to Valerie
  • Chiro on April 3, 2009, 04:10:51

    Learn more about chiropractic’s all-natural approach to eliminating back pain or if you’d like to know more about Chiropractic then you can visit our Chiropractor and Patient information resource at or purchase a voucher online to see a chiropractor now at a special reduced.

    Reply to Chiro
  • Susan on April 20, 2009, 08:52:22

    Hi Kate,

    I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for you suffering from fibromyalgia. I suffer from really chronic migraines and thats hard for me. Thanks for a great informing post as its really opened my eyes to fibromyalagia

    Reply to Susan
  • Jeannette Laframboise on May 13, 2009, 06:37:53

    I have fibro among other nasty things. Was getting severe migraines sometimes 3-4 times a week. Since starting on nortriptyline (50mg) I have not had one in 10 months. Hurray! They were severe enough to have me in the hospital as they would raise my blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels,and now I am so grateful they have stopped.

    Reply to Jeannette

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