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New study and drug could change how doctors diagnose, treat migraines

MRI
Posted at 7:06 AM, Jan 24, 2023

PHOENIX — Just thinking about the throbbing pain of migraines is enough to give you a headache and when they hit, the pain can be debilitating, and some become sensitive to light.

Why they happen has eluded scientists, but a new clue could help carve a path to answers. Researchers with the Radiological Society of North America spotted never before seen changes in the brain structure using high-resolution MRIs. Migraine sufferers showed enlarged perivascular spaces, the areas where vessels come in to get blood to the brain.

Researchers hypothesize that could impact blood flow or the brain's ability to clear waste from the central nervous system.

"It's not clear if the space comes from the migraine or if the space exists itself and that sets you up for the migraine. It really helps to start thinking about the physiology of how it works because migraines are very complex," said ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti after reviewing the study findings.

When it comes to more rapid relief, a new drug is up for FDA review within the first quarter of the year. Zavegepant is a nasal spray that in trials has stopped the pain in 15 minutes and lasted 48 hours. Most medications already on the market are preventative pills.

"There are also complementary and alternative medicines when you look at it from an integrative perspective," said Dr. Shad who suggests patients also check for B12 and magnesium insufficiencies which can lead to migraines.

Other therapies like acupuncture have shown success and herbs like feverfew and butterbur, a daily dose of which has been shown to cut your risk by 48%.

"There are solutions to migraines out there but unfortunately it's not a one-size fits-all," Dr. Shad said.

It's also important for your own pain management to keep a migraine journal, log any potential triggers and share that with your doctor to create a plan.