The medical management of migraine.

Marcelo E. Bigal, Richard B. Lipton, Abouch V. Krymchantowski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Migraine is a common, chronic neurologic disorder that affects 11% of the adult population in Western countries. In this article, we review the current approaches to the pharmacologic treatment of migraine. Once migraine is diagnosed, and illness severity has been assessed, clinicians and patients should work together to develop a treatment plan based on the patient needs and preferences. The goals of the treatment plan usually include reducing attack frequency, intensity, and duration; minimizing headache-related disability; improving health-related quality of life; and avoiding headache escalation and medication misuse. Medical treatments for migraine can be divided into preventive drugs, which are taken on a daily basis regardless of whether headache is present, and acute drugs taken to treat individual attacks as they arise. Acute treatments are further divided into nonspecific and migraine-specific treatments. The US Headache Consortium Guidelines recommend stratified care based on the level of disability to help physicians individualize treatment. Simple analgesics are appropriate as first-line acute treatments for less disabled patients; if simple analgesics are unsuccessful, treatment is escalated. For those with high disability levels, migraine-specific acute therapies, such as the triptans, are recommended as the initial treatment, with preventive drugs in selected patients. A variety of behavioral interventions are helpful. The clinicians have in their armamentariums an ever-expanding variety of medications. With experience, clinicians can match individual patient needs with the specific characteristics of a drug to optimize therapeutic benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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