What Are Beta-Blockers, and How Can They Treat My Migraines?

Migraine headaches can develop from any number of causes. Something as simple as skipping a meal or changes in the weather can be enough to set a migraine into motion. That means that effectively treating your persistent headaches starts with figuring out which factors drive your migraines.

We can help. At Hawai’i Pain and Spine on the Windward side of O’ahu in Kailua, Dr. Jonathan Carlson and our team work with you to explore the causes of your migraines and treatments that may work. While we offer a variety of migraine treatments, we want to highlight one in particular today: beta-blockers. This option helps for stress-related migraines. 

How beta-blockers work

Technically, beta-blockers are a way to lower your blood pressure. They cause your heart to beat more slowly, decreasing the force placed on your blood vessels with each pump. Doctors originally prescribed them to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) starting in the 1960s. That means this medication has a long history of safe use. 

So, how do beta-blockers help with migraines? These medications work by blocking adrenaline, one of your body’s stress hormones. Because stress is a major migraine trigger for a lot of people, they make a difference.

Researchers are still exploring precisely how beta-blockers work for migraine headaches. They also theorize that they might make a difference by addressing several different migraine causes, including:

Because these medications work in multiple ways to address migraines, many people see significant relief with them. 

When to try beta-blockers

Most research into this migraine treatment has found that beta-blockers work best if you have three migraines a month or fewer. Dr. Calrson may still recommend them for you if you have more regular headaches, though, as part of your personalized migraine treatment plan. 

That’s particularly true if it seems like stress often triggers your migraines. If you notice that you have a fast heart rate or you struggle with anxiety, for example, beta-blockers give you a way to directly address this root cause of your headaches. 

If Dr. Calrson does recommend this medication, you’ll take it daily. Beta-blockers don’t deliver an immediate effect, so Dr. Carlson usually recommends sticking with the medication for about eight weeks to see if your headaches improve. 

To learn more about this way to target one of the main causes of migraines — and to find out if it could be right for you — call our office to schedule an appointment today.

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