I’ve had some pretty bad migraines over the past 15 years. No treatments (medication, physical therapy, etc.) have been successful at treating the pain, so I have really not had a choice but to “learn to live with it” (though I don’t relish hearing others tell me to do this). However, the frequency and severity of the pain has definitely increased in the past 6 months to the point that I have returned to my search for what to do.
One night last fall, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t get up the stairs to my bed, because my head pounded harder as my heart beat faster. It usually isn’t that much of a strain to climb stairs, but it seems that any increase in heart rate causes an existing migraine to intensify. I stopped mid-climb, laid across the stair I was on, and cried. Coaxing from my husband encouraged me to continue stair-by-stair the rest of the way.
I made it to the recliner in our bedroom, and my husband asked if there was anything he could get me. Knowing that no pain medication, heat, ice, massage, or hair brushing was going to put a dent in this one, I declined all of them. The only thing that I could think of was to distract myself with something pleasurable. I remembered a friend relating how much she enjoyed Epsom salt baths, so I asked for a foot bath with Epsom salts, which my husband gladly brought to me.
At first, I just focused on my feet to get my thoughts off of my head. However, after about 20 minutes, I noticed that the pain in my head had gone down significantly. I definitely wasn’t expecting this to happen, but I surely wasn’t going to complain about it! Even if a migraine doesn’t completely go away, I bet most migraineurs welcome a reduction in pain. Needless to say, I did more Epsom salt baths (foot and bathtub) over the next couple of days:)
Once my brain fog cleared a few days later, I was eager to learn why the baths helped so much. Evidently, the magnesium in the Epsom salts is absorbed through skin, and magnesium can be helpful for people with migraines. I had never heard of this and wondered why none of the medical professionals I had visited had ever revealed it to me. However, I was glad to be on a track that might help. An added blessing came via my daughter who was doing research for a paper. She came across the book “Drug Muggers” by Suzy Cohen in which an entire chapter is dedicated to magnesium, including its impact on pain. The author also points out that different forms of magnesium can have different side effects.
The magnesium supplement I have decided to use is this one. Sometimes, I still do an Epsom salt bath in the tub, because this helps my muscles relax. This is particularly helpful if my neck muscles are getting sore from a migraine. Rubbing magnesium lotion into my neck and upper back also helps somewhat. I have even rubbed it into my scalp right through my hair on occasion. The muscle relaxation from this is worth the horrendous hairdo that results:)
I have found that magnesium is definitely not the whole story of how to control my migraines, but it is partially helpful. Added to changes in diet and use of other supplements, I am feeling much better and have hope for a much more functional life.
Please note that I am not a doctor, pharmacist, or dietician. My intent is to post my personal experiences with the hope of suggesting a migraine control option for your to pursue with your doctor.