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Managing Your Migraine: Book review

Dr Katy Munro from the National Migraine Centre in the UK published a book in 2021 called Managing Your Migraine. It’s easy to read and informative and should be on the to-read list of every person with migraine. As those of us with migraine know, migraine disease is a debilitating, neurological condition. It’s not just a headache, and it’s not something a couple of paracetamol and a lie down will fix. It takes a full migraine toolkit of medications, lifestyle strategies, diet, exercise, s...

November 15, 2022

The Painful Truth: Book review

The Painful Truth: The New Science of Why We Hurt and How We Can Heal. By Dr Monty Lyman. This is not a book about migraine, but about the nature and purpose of pain. However, anyone trying to deal with migraine, especially chronic migraine (the author prefers the term ‘persistent’ to ‘chronic’, as chronic can infer permanence, which is both disheartening and incorrect) would find pearls in this book. The punchline is what the author calls ‘the painful untruth’ – the bogus belief t...

November 7, 2022

New Zealand health survey data – a decade to be released

This is what people were asked in the 2013/14 New Zealand Health Survey, the last time the Ministry of Health collected data on the prevalence of migraine in Aotearoa New Zealand. There are some obvious problems with this question. What if you have migraine attacks but have never been to a doctor about them? One of the best surveys of migraine in the world, from the US, estimates that only 61% of people with migraine disease have a medical diagnosis.(1)  What if you have migraine attacks bu...

October 31, 2022

Biofeedback: an underused migraine treatment

There’s a treatment for migraine that is safe, has no side effects and may work as well as a preventive medication – but it’s not a pill. (3)  That treatment is biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method of training people to control physiological functions, including heart rate, temperature, breathing rate and muscle tension. This is done using sensors that monitor these functions – e.g. a band around the chest to monitor respiration, electrical sensors on muscles to measure muscle contr...

October 25, 2022

I tried Aimovig for six months. Here's my verdict

Calcitonin gene-related peptide or CGRP for short. That’s the target of most of the new medications developed to treat or prevent migraine attacks, the first medications that were specifically developed for migraine, based on basic science research on migraine pathophysiology. CGRP monoclonal antibody medications (mabs) are the big ticket new preventive treatments. Previous medications used to prevent migraine were developed for other conditions, and only incidentally found to have some use in...

October 17, 2022

Anxiety and migraine

Do you have trouble relaxing? Are you unable to control or stop worrying? Feel nervous, anxious or on edge?  These were the most common symptoms of anxiety found in a study of people with migraine and mood disorders, that found anxiety was strongly associated with migraine, even more so than depression. (1) Anxiety is more common in people with migraine (compared to people without), but it may be a circular relationship. Anxiety and stress can trigger a migraine attack (either as anxiety in...

October 10, 2022

Emgality Frequently Asked Questions

In September 2022, the second calcitonin gene-related monoclonal (CGRP) monoclonal antibody medication called Emgality (galcanezumab) was launched in New Zealand. Since the launch, we’ve received many questions about who can prescribe Emgality, which pharmacists stock it and how it’s given. We’ve put together these Frequently Asked Questions to help. If there’s a question that’s not answered here, feel free to email us: info@migrainefoundation.org.nz and we’ll add it to the list. Who...

October 3, 2022

The link between migraine and depression

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to highlight that people with migraine disease are at greater risk of some mental illnesses, especially depression and anxiety. It’s a sad truth that migraine and depression travel together. If you have migraine disease, you're more likely to experience depression than those without it, especially if you have chronic migraine (15 or more headache days a month). And if you have depression, you're more likely to experience migraine attacks. Most people w...

September 25, 2022

Few people on a benefit for migraine in New Zealand

If you’ve ever wondered how many people in Aotearoa New Zealand are on a benefit with migraine disease, we have some answers, but many more questions. We asked the Ministry of Social Development for the number of people with migraine on a Supported Living Payment (SLP-HCD), or a Jobseeker - Health Condition or Disability (JS-HCD) payment. The SLP-HCD is for people who are unable to work on a long-term basis because of a health condition or disability. The JS-HCD payment is for people who can o...

September 19, 2022

Medication-overuse headache

How do you balance taking acute migraine medications as soon as you feel a migraine attack starting, without taking too many to tip you into medication-overuse headache? Solving that problem is enough to bring on a headache. Medication-overuse headache, also called medication adaptation or medication-induced headache, is something many people with migraine struggle with. Medication-overuse headache is the commonly used term, even though it blames the person for using the medication too much, ins...

September 13, 2022

Gepants – more migraine drugs we’re missing out on

The new vogue of migraine medications are those that block calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a small protein found in the nervous system involved in the processing of pain.  The role of CGRP in migraine was confirmed by a study that injected CGRP into people with migraine, which provoked migraine attacks. Since then, the search has been on for drugs that target CGRP and treat migraine. The first of these were the gepants, small molecules designed to block CGRP receptors, where CGRP wo...

September 5, 2022

More migraine data needed in New Zealand

New Zealand has a migraine data issue. The issue is the lack of data on migraine in New Zealand.  We rely on estimates from the international Global Burden of Disease study to give us an idea of how common migraine is, because we don’t have up-to-date national statistics. Data from the New Zealand Health Survey We do have a way of collecting these statistics, through the New Zealand Health Survey, a large nationwide survey run by the Ministry of Health that asks about health conditions, r...

August 29, 2022

Migraine podcasts

I’m a big fan of podcasts. Having a long list of podcast episodes to listen to is often the best motivation to get me outside and exercising, and they’re also great during a migraine attack if I need some time on the couch but still want to feel productive. I’ve collated a list of my favourite migraine podcasts, and hope that however migraine affects your life, you’ll find this list helpful. Heads Up Podcast This podcast is produced by the National Migraine Centre in the UK. It’s curre...

August 24, 2022

Dealing with bad or unsolicited advice about migraine

How many times has someone found out I have migraine and they immediately offer me their solution.  I’ve been told: You should get your eyes testedYou should try acupunctureYou should try Chinese medicineYou should try ayurvedic medicineYou should try these special supplements, that my wife has a business inYou should go to a chiropractorYou should go to an osteopath People want to help, they really do (except maybe the guy pushing his wife’s supplements, who got offended when I politel...

August 15, 2022

Massage for migraine

Can regular massage help manage migraine?Relaxing music, aromatic oils, warm towels, dim lights and therapeutic muscle manipulation – these are the essence of a massage treatment. It sounds good, smells good, feels good – but can it help with migraine?There hasn’t been a lot of research on massage for migraine, but there was one in New Zealand in 2003. I was a participant in this study. Eligible people were randomised to either weekly massage for six weeks or just carrying on life as usual...

August 2, 2022

Downward dog for migraine?

Effectiveness of yoga therapy for migraine treatment: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. When I saw the title of this research article, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve been doing yoga for years, sporadically. I’d been told I should do yoga every day for migraine but I’ve never been able to find the time or the money for a daily in-person class, which are usually 45-60 minutes long and might cost $20 or more a session. But when the pandemic happened and we went into lockdow...

July 28, 2022

Acoustic neuroma Auckland University research

Participants wanted for Auckland University study Auckland University researchers are looking for participants for a study exploring people’s experience of acoustic neuroma diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a noncancerous and usually slow-growing tumour that develops on the main (vestibular) nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain. Branches of this nerve directly influence your balance and hearing, and pressure from an acousti...

July 25, 2022

When migraine is a pain in the neck

Many people with migraine experience neck pain during an attack. Does this mean we need to treate the neck to deal with migraine?In day to day language, including in the press, the word ‘migraine’ is often used synonymously with ‘headache’. Case in point: This recent Newshub article:“[Simon] O'Connor…caused a four-day migraine for his party with a Facebook post celebrating the dismantling of Roe v Wade.” Mr O’Connor’s action presumably did not induce nausea, vomiting and s...

July 11, 2022

Shades for Migraine in New Zealand

On 21 June we joined with many other organisations and advocates to help raise awareness of migraine disease. We encouraged people in New Zealand to post photos of themselves, their family, their pets, their colleagues, wearing a pair of sunglasses for the global social media campaign Shades for Migraine, run by the Association of Migraine Disorders. Three prizes for people in New Zealand were up for grabs: one pair of Avulux Migraine Glasses, thanks to Avulux and CR Surfacing, valued at $900; a...

July 5, 2022

Migraine triggers – or warning signs?

Studies show that some factors we commonly consider a migraine trigger are probably the prodromal phase of migraine. What exactly triggers a migraine attack?  Many of us have spent too much time pondering on the cause of any particular attack – was it because of stress at work? A poor night’s sleep? A glass of wine? Too much dairy? Too much sugar? Too much coffee? Not enough coffee? Not enough water? Going on holiday? A colleague’s strong cologne? A change in the weather? Working out ...

June 27, 2022

Menstrual migraine – a monthly monster

Many women dread their periods, but having migraine along for the ride can turn an uncomfortable event into a monster.Women are more likely to have migraine disease than men, but only after puberty. In children, the prevalence of migraine disease is the same in boys and girls. But once girls get their period, something about the rampant monthly fluctuation of female hormones means that girls are more susceptible to migraine attacks. We don’t really know why, we just know that it happens. Aroun...

June 7, 2022

Nerve stimulation to treat migraine attacks

A new randomised controlled trial reports that stimulation of the largest facial nerve can treat a migraine attack. Most of us are familiar with taking medicines to treat a migraine attack – paracetamol, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen, a triptan – but new treatments target the nervous system through devices, with no swallowing required. This type of treatment is known as neuromodulation or neurostimulation and works by changing the activity of nerves through e...

May 31, 2022

Sharing our story on That’s So Chronic podcast

One of our co-founders Sarah had the opportunity to be a guest on the weekly podcast That’s So Chronic, with host Jess Brien. Sarah shared about her life living with migraine, and how starting a migraine blog in 2020 led her to co-found Migraine Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand with Fiona and Suzanne. Sarah’s episode was released this week and you can listen to her episode on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, stitcher, Google podcasts and online. Visit the That’s So Chronic podcast page...

May 24, 2022

Pharmac responds to our erenumab funding feedback

Pharmac responds to our feedback we submitted in April following PTAC's recommendation that erenumab be funded, but with a low priority. Last week we received a reply from Pharmac regarding the feedback we submitted following the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC) recommendation that erenumab (Aimovig) be funded, but with a low priority and only for patients with chronic migraine. Find out more and read our feedback submission Pharmac has advised us that it intends to take o...

May 16, 2022

Treatment of migraine in the emergency department

An evidence-based, medically reviewed treatment plan for people with migraine who visit the emergency department for acute treatment.Medically reviewed by Dr Pyari Bose MBBS, MD, FRCP (London), FRACP, Consultant Neurologist Many of us with migraine disease end up at the emergency department (ED) at least once in our lives, especially if we’re struck with vomiting that means we can’t keep our regular medications in our stomachs. But the treatment we get can vary tremendously, depending on who...

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