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A Rational Approach to the Management of Chronic Migraine


  • Conflict of Interest: Dr. Evans reports serving on Allergan’s speaker’s bureau.

Address all correspondence to R.W. Evans, Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, 1200 Binz #1370, Houston, TX 77004, USA, email:


About 2% of the adult population has chronic migraine with only 20% diagnosed with this disorder. Those with medication overuse may improve with withdrawal of overuse medications. The intravenous dihydroergotamine regimen usually produces short-term benefit for those with medically refractory chronic migraine. OnabotulinumtoxinA and topiramate have shown efficacy in large placebo-controlled randomized trials. Sodium valproate, gabapentin, tizanidine, amitriptyline, fluoxetine, zonisamide, and possibly memantine may be alternative or possibly combined treatment options but with lesser levels of evidence supporting their use. Preliminary evidence suggests that nerve blocks might be beneficial. Acupuncture, biofeedback, relaxation therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy might be of benefit. Surgical treatments including bariatric and deactivation of trigger points are of growing interest but not appropriate for most sufferers. Occipital nerve stimulation is a promising treatment with ongoing studies defining its use.

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