We have a problem with medications in this country. Medications can be very helpful, but many doctors rely on them too heavily. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the opioid crisis. Opioids are powerful drugs that can relieve pain, but they can also be addictive and deadly. Overdoses on legal opioids are spiking in the US due to overprescription and overuse.

Now a new study shows that doctors are inappropriately prescribing opioids for migraines. People need to know that opioids may not be right for them, and they need to know that drug-free alternatives for migraine treatment are available, too.

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A Treatment of Last Resort

This new study is based on a randomly selected sample of 2900 doctor visits in the US from 2006 to 2013. They are said to statistically represent about 50 million doctor visits nationwide.

Although researchers noted that opioids should be considered a treatment of “last resort” for migraine, about 15% were prescribed these drugs. A headache specialist looking at the study commented that this rate is “way too high.“

It is way too high when you consider how ineffective opioids really are for migraines. Although opioids can provide short-term relief from migraine pain, they can make migraines worse over the long run. In fact, opioids can cause people to have more migraines than they did before. And opioids become less effective over time. Thi means that people require higher doses to achieve the same pain relief, which is part of the reason why opioids have such a high risk for addiction and overdose.

But as troubling as the opioid prescriptions are, researchers also point to a lack of actually effective migraine medication prescriptions. About 40% of people aren’t prescribed a preventive medication for migraines. And about 40% aren’t prescribed an abortive medication for migraines–one that can stop migraines once they start. Researchers say that giving more people effective medications can actually help them get better results–without relying on opioids.

Drug-Free Treatments Are Available

This study shows that when people go to their doctors for migraine treatment, about two out of five don’t get effective treatments, and nearly one in six gets prescribed a medication that may actually be harmful.

Researchers recommend that people should be aware of the medications they’ve been prescribed and whether these are actually appropriate for their headaches. If they have doubts, they shouldn’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

And people should be aware that there are even drug-free alternatives to migraine treatment. For many people, migraines are a secondary symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder (called TMJ or TMD). In fact,  Treating TMJ can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. And people who experience migraines that worsen over time are more likely to have TMJ.

We offer TMJ treatment that can help reduce or eliminate migraines and other related symptoms. If you are in the Hilton Head area and think that TMJ might be contributing to your migraines, please call (843) 706-2999 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.