Treating Migraine Headaches

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Story Updated: Jan 10, 2014

Could what your doctor tells you about a migraine medication affect how well it works? A new study finds that the information health care providers give patients when prescribing a treatment influences their expectations and the results.

Researchers studied more than 450 migraine attacks in 66 people. The participants were first asked to document their headache pain and other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Then, they were given six envelopes with pills and instructed to take one for each of their next six migraines.Two envelopes were labeled with the drug name Maxalt and presented with positive expectations. two were labeled placebo and delivered with negative messages and two were labeled Maxalt or placebo and contained neutral information. In reality, each pair of envelopes held one Maxalt tablet and one placebo.

The patients then kept track of their pain and symptoms on each pill. The results showed that giving pills with positive expectations significantly boosted the efficacy of both the active migraine medication and the placebo. Neutral information also increased headache relief. Conversely, giving negative information resulted in the lowest reported benefit. not only for the placebo, but for the actual medication, as well. The researchers say this study shows that medication and information may be equally important for migraine relief.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the latest breakthroughs from the world of medicine.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com