How Do You Know If You Suffer from Chronic Migraine?

By: Wendy Zadeh, MD

Chronic migraine is often a difficult and debilitating condition. A neurologist can help determine if you have migraines that are occasional or migraines that meet the criteria of chronic migraine. Chronic migraine is a condition that affects an estimated 3.2 million sufferers in the US, and many people remain undiagnosed. Chronic migraine is a neurological condition. Treatment options are available including oral medications or Botox injections. 

In practical terms, "15-4-8 "is a simplified way to identify if you suffer from chronic migraine: 15 or more headache days per month, with headaches lasting 4 hours or longer, and experience 8 or more of these headaches you likely meet the criteria of a chronic migraine condition.  Diagnosing chronic migraine accurately allows for an appropriate treatment plan to be identified. When patients use a headache journal to document their symptoms, it can assist doctors in establishing a diagnosis. Created by a team of headache experts, this is a useful form that patients can fill out and share with their doctor to determine if they have chronic migraine.

When a patient is diagnosed with chronic migraine, Botox injections may be an option for preventive treatment. Botox is the first and only preventive treatment approved by the FDA for adults with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine patients receive Botox injections every 12 weeks in the doctor's office. Patients may experience temporary and mild discomfort during the treatment. Patients experience little to no down time after an appointment. Side effects such as neck pain or temporary slight changes in brow expression may occur.  With successful Botox treatment, patients experience fewer headache days each month, sometimes becoming headache free with continued treatment. Most insurance plans offer coverage for patients with chronic migraine with varying out-of-pocket expense based upon your insurance plan.  Botox treatment for chronic migraine is performed at Broadlawns Neurology Clinic.

Dr. Wendy Zadeh is the Neurology Section Chief at Broadlawns Medical Center and has fellowship training in epilepsy and expertise in treating chronic migraine. Dr. Zadeh and Chad Quist, PA-C accept patients with public and private commercial insurance. If you think you may have chronic migraine or would like more information, visit the Broadlawns Neurology Clinic page, or call the Broadlawns Neurology Clinic at (515) 282-2463 to schedule an appointment.