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Vital Signs: Five Things Not To Do When Treating Migraines


Migraine headaches are severe enough to make you reach for anything that might bring relief. And that can lead to serious problems. The American Headache Society (AHS) recently issued recommendations of things NOT to do when diagnosing or treating migraines.

In this week’s installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Dr. Kevin Conner is a neurologist and director of the Stroke Center at Texas Health Arlington Hospital. He says what physicians or patients take or prescribe can make matters worse.

The AHS List of 5 Don’ts When Treating Migraines:

  • Don’t perform neuroimaging studies in patients with stable headaches that meet criteria for migraine
  • Don’t perform computed tomography (CT) imaging for headache when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is available, except in emergency settings
  • Don’t recommend surgical deactivation of migraine trigger points outside of a clinical trial
  • Don’t prescribe opioid or butalbital-containing medications as first-line treatment for recurrent headache disorders
  • Don’t recommend prolonged or frequent use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications for headache


Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.