What To Do When You Feel a Migraine Coming On

What To Do When You Feel a Migraine Coming On

  • Migraine pain

Migraines are headaches with more intense and potentially debilitating symptoms, as they can last anywhere from hours to days. People who suffer from regular migraines may feel a sense of hopelessness. Thankfully, there are several preventative measures you can take if you feel a migraine coming on! 

This article will discuss multiple ways of managing migraine pain and addressing the issue immediately — before it worsens. This information is essential for anyone that struggles with migraines, as we offer both short-term and long-term migraine treatment options. So why suffer through migraine symptoms when you can take action?

What Does a Migraine Feel Like?

Symptoms of migraines include severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. This pain usually begins on one side of the head, around the eyes, or in the forehead. Migraines worsen with time, and the pain can escalate with movement, bright light, loud noises, and other external factors.

You’re probably wondering, what causes migraine pain? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. Migraines are very complex and still not fully understood. Knowing how to treat and manage migraine symptoms is typically more productive than determining an exact cause.


Migraine Symptoms

It’s important to note that migraines may feel different depending on what stage of the migraine you’re experiencing. Therefore, to effectively address your migraine pain, it helps immensely to understand the various phases and their identifiable symptoms.

Please note, not all migraines will follow all four phases.


The prodrome phase takes place one or two days before the actual migraine attack. You may experience seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as constipation, neck stiffness, mood changes, increased urination, and frequent yawning. Knowing these signs can give you a day or two’s warning of an oncoming migraine attack.  


Some people experience a migraine aura right before or during migraines. Auras are reversible visual symptoms that include vision loss, trouble with speaking, and optical phenomena like seeing bright spots. These symptoms build up over several minutes and are usually a more prominent indicator of an oncoming migraine than the prodrome symptoms. 


The symptoms of the actual migraine attack, which may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, vary. However, the most common migraine symptoms include throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and less frequently, smell and touch. 


After the attack has ended, you may feel tired, confused, or euphoric. The former is more common than the latter. You may still experience a few of the symptoms in a way that’s much less intense, with sudden head movement potentially bringing the pain back for a brief time. 


Migraine coming on

Managing Migraine Pain

The key to managing migraine pain is to try and stop it before it starts. Using the information provided above, you may be able to determine when you’re experiencing the aura phase preceding the migraine attack. During this time, the best thing for migraine relief is to take an over-the-counter medication like Advil. Medication is the fastest way to get rid of a migraine when you feel it coming on. You can also take medication during a migraine attack, though it typically won’t be as effective. 

There are also natural ways of reducing the frequency of your migraines and the severity of your symptoms. The first is stress management, such as a long bath after a busy day or anything else that helps you unwind. Regarding diet, you should avoid skipping meals and be consistent with the times of day that you’re eating. 


It would be best to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, which means getting enough sleep without oversleeping. If you’re in the midst of a migraine, you may be wondering if it’s unsafe to fall asleep. It is safe to sleep with a migraine, but it’s wise to try and treat your symptoms before falling asleep. Otherwise, they may be worse when you wake up. 


Migraine Treatments

If you experience chronic migraines that don’t improve much with over-the-counter medications, you may need to see a specialist. They can offer information regarding other treatment options, including acupuncture, massage therapy, botox, trigger point injections, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more. 


What Not To Do

You should avoid doing certain things when managing your migraines, as you could accidentally trigger a migraine or worsen your symptoms. For example, drinking lots of alcohol and caffeine can bring on migraines. The same is true for foods with strong smells.

Also, don’t take pain medication for more than 3 or 4 days. While over-the-counter medications can ease migraine symptoms, taking them too frequently can result in a type of rebound headache. If you feel the need to take these medications for more than a few days in a row, that’s a strong indicator that you need to speak with your doctor. 


Carolinas Pain Center Is Here To Help

There are ways of treating migraines on your own through over-the-counter medication and natural remedies. However, there are times where professional intervention becomes necessary, mainly if your migraines are overly frequent, severe, or resistant to medication. 

Our specialists at the Carolinas Pain Center can create an individualized personal treatment plan to help you manage your migraines and improve your quality of life. With our multidisciplinary approach, our services have changed people’s lives all across Charlotte and Huntersville, North Carolina.

If you have any questions or want to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to call 704-500-2332, email info@carolinaspaincenter.com, or fill out our contact form. You can also find other educational resources on our website. 

Foods That Contribute to Your Chronic Pain

  • Foods that cause pain

Chronic pain is a lingering pain lasting more than 12 weeks. The pain can occur in nearly every part of the body, with varying intensities depending on the area affected or the cause. It may feel like a sharp, dull, burning, or aching sensation deep in muscle tissues or joints.

Cases of chronic pain vary from person to person. And various treatment methods can’t seem to agree on relieving or eliminating chronic pain suffering. But one thing for sure is the effect food has on chronic pain. Studies have found a close correlation between chronic pain and diet. Some foods can promote chronic pain relief, while others can worsen the pain. Let’s identify the foods that cause pain and those that help alleviate it.


Chronic Pain Triggers

What causes chronic pain in the first place? Chronic pain can be due to many different factors and is linked to various conditions and illnesses. Common causes and triggers of chronic pain include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Inflammation
  • Traumatic injury
  • Bad posture
  • Degenerative changes due to aging
  • Surgery
  • Illnesses such as cancer, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), fibromyalgia, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, etc.
  • Certain medications and treatments such as chemotherapy


Foods to Avoid

Here is a list of foods to avoid with chronic pain:

  • Sugars: Sugar and chronic pain go hand in hand. Sugar increases inflammation and nerve sensitivity to pain.
  • Bad fats: Avoid saturated and trans fats found in red meat, margarine, fast foods, and cream. Such fats exacerbate chronic pain from heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • Dairy products: Dairy contains lactose, a type of sugar that may cause inflammation. Also, the protein in dairy products, particularly casein, is difficult to digest and may lead to discomfort in the gut.
  • White flour: Processed white flour contains gluten, a common inflammatory ingredient.
  • Nightshade vegetables: Veggies such as green peppers, eggplants, and potatoes can increase chronic pain, especially for those with arthritis.
  • Processed foods: Most processed foods are packed with a lot of sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives, many of which can increase inflammatory pain.
  • Alcohol and caffeine: Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and other strong stimulants if you suffer from chronic pain.


The Best Foods for Chronic Pain

foods for chronic painSome foods have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that give them therapeutic properties. Such foods include:

  • Leafy and cruciferous greens: Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and arugula combined with cruciferous greens such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are good for chronic pain sufferers.
  • Healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. Natural fats and oils from fish, avocados, olives, and nuts can reduce inflammation.
  • Fresh fruits: Dark-colored berries, cherries, and pomegranates are good at preventing inflammation.
  • Wholegrains: Unprocessed whole grain foods such as nuts, legumes, and grains are nutritious, high in fiber, and promote anti-inflammation.
  • White meat: Lean meat from fish and poultry is an excellent replacement for unhealthy red meat.
  • Herbs and spices: Many spicy herbs such as black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, herbal tea, and ginger are rich in antioxidants and organic anti-inflammatory chemicals.



You can control chronic pain, to some extent, by adjusting your diet and some lifestyle habits. However, no diet can directly substitute conventional pain treatment. But you can at least relieve or avoid chronic pain by eating more of certain foods and less of others.

Get lasting relief from chronic pain at Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will help make your daily life more tolerable by managing muscular and joint aches and pains, regardless of the cause. Browse our service page to learn more about chronic pain and the solutions available to you.

What Could Be Causing Your Chronic Pain?

  • chronic pain causes

Chronic pain is an ongoing pain that persists for three months or more. It can come and go from hour to hour or day to day, but it never completely disappears. Unlike acute pain, such as when you cut your finger or bang your knee, chronic pain can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.

Read on to learn more about the most common causes of chronic pain, types of chronic pain, chronic pain symptoms, and treatments for chronic pain. For most people, chronic pain changes their lives and the lives of those around them in a negative way. However, there are ways to manage or eliminate chronic pain today so it doesn’t take over your life. Once you understand more about chronic pain, you can take the steps you need to get it under control so it doesn’t become the focus of your life.


Causes of Chronic Pain

There are dozens of possible causes of chronic pain. Knowing the source of your pain is helpful for treatment, although it’s not always necessary. There is such a thing as idiopathic pain, which is pain from an unknown cause.

We can divide chronic pain into two basic types: neuropathic and nociceptive. Neuropathic pain is a cause of damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system, such as neuropathic pain associated with diabetes. Nociceptive pain happens when pain receptors in the body are activated, often due to an injury or degenerative condition like arthritis.

Types of chronic pain


Chronic pain can fall into one of five types:

  • Nerve pain (neuropathy, sciatica, etc.)
  • Muscle pain
  • Mechanical or compressive pain (from a tumor or spinal disc pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve)
  • Inflammatory pain (arthritis, soft tissue injury, infection, etc.)
  • Psychogenic pain (not caused by one of the four types above, such as pain with depression that is often due to inadequate serotonin or norepinephrine)



Within those four types of pain, medical practitioners find many different unique causes of chronic pain. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Back pain due to slipped or bulging discs, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), soft tissue injury (strain or trauma), fractures (including those related to osteoporosis), and spinal deformities like scoliosis or lordosis
  • Headaches due to eyestrain, migraines, tension, hormones, or enlarged blood vessels
  • Joint pain caused by various types of arthritis (osteo, rheumatoid, psoriatic, etc.), tendinitis, bursitis, and repetitive motion (such as walking, typing, sports, or physical labor)
  • Nerve pain, such as sciatica, pseudo sciatica (also known as piriformis or deep gluteal syndrome), diabetic neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia after having had shingles
  • Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or another poorly understood chronic pain syndrome
  • Post-surgical pain after an operation, including phantom pain after amputation
  • Cancer and compressive pain caused by other types of lesions
  • Post-trauma pain from an injury (anything from a car accident to a broken bone years ago)
  • Endometriosis (growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) irritating the digestive tract
  • Interstitial cystitis that results in pain due to bladder pressure
  • TMJ or temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)

Risk Factors of Chronic Pain

While it may seem that chronic pain came out of nowhere, risk factors predispose people to long-term pain or a pain disorder. If you have had these health concerns, you may be more likely to suffer from chronic pain:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Work involving strenuous physical labor or repetitive motion, especially in an environment without good ergonomic support (including driving)
  • Participation in high-impact sports involving running, jumping, or physical contact
  • Diabetes and kidney disease
  • Diagnoses with certain disorders, like endometriosis, IBS, or TMJ
  • History of physical trauma, injury, or major surgery
  • Work that entails long hours reading or using a computer
  • High-stress lifestyle
  • Inadequate sleep for long periods or chronic fatigue
  • Poor nutrition, including eating disorders
  • Chemotherapy or certain medications that stress internal organs
  • Being in the military or being a veteran
  • Excess alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Genetics (family members with a history of chronic pain)
  • Lack of regular sunlight and vitamin D
  • Being overweight
  • Aging (chronic pain is more common in the elderly)

Many of these risk factors link with chronic pain symptoms. For example, people who work in high-stress jobs are already prone to chronic pain. When their work stress impacts their sleep, diet, alcohol intake, and exercise, chronic pain symptoms can worsen, leading to even worse sleep, overeating, more drinking, and obesity.


Treatments for Chronic Pain

A treatment plan for ongoing pain first looks at the cause and chronic pain symptoms, as different methods work best depending on the individual situation. Also, everyone’s threshold for pain is unique. Therefore, doctors may reserve some treatments, such as surgery or prescription medication, for when the pain becomes unbearable. A more conservative approach is to avoid costly operations with long recovery periods or the risk of addiction to pharmaceuticals like opioids.

Fortunately, there are many options for treating chronic pain today, and there is a wealth of technology available to help diagnose pain and assess treatment progress. Some of the most common chronic pain treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which work well for chronic pain and inflammation
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Sleep aids
  • Other classes of prescription medication, such as antirheumatics, anticonvulsants, and opioids
  • Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine
  • Massage
  • Application of heat or cold
  • Deep brain or spinal cord stimulation
  • Diet modification
  • Nerve blocks
  • Surgery
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit that interrupts pain signals between the body and the brain


chronic painLiving with Chronic Pain

Sometimes practitioners cannot wholly eliminate chronic pain symptoms, even with the treatments listed in the previous section. Nevertheless, they do their best to relieve symptoms while helping patients learn to live with chronic pain, which in some cases can be a lifelong disability.

Other modalities help people manage their pain, especially those involving fostering a mind-body connection. For some people, meditation, gentle yoga, tai chi, and music or art therapy are very effective. Animal therapy is another growing area of assistance with chronic pain, such as small pet therapy or grooming horses.

Talk therapy with a counselor can be essential in helping those with chronic pain. It gives them an outlet for discussing pain-related psychological issues and can provide direction for managing stress, dealing with family, and handling work.


Take the First Step Toward Managing Chronic Pain

If you have chronic pain, you can take steps to make it better, and in some cases, you can eliminate the pain. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis to understand the cause of your pain. Then, you want to work with a medical professional to reduce risk factors and try treatment methods that may work for you. Sometimes you may attempt multiple treatments before you find one that relieves your pain, and you may need to pair several treatment modalities to get the best results.

Don’t let chronic pain ruin your life or assume that you can do nothing about it. Carolinas Pain Center is here to help empower you regarding chronic pain, particularly if you haven’t been able to find relief elsewhere. We offer various services for the different types of pain listed here, and we understand your pain requires a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at 704-500-2332. Or reach out online to let us know how we can help.

How to Find the Best Pain Management Treatment for You

  • pain management

Chronic pain is a complex medical issue, and it can, unfortunately, take quite some time to find a pain relief treatment or combination of treatments that work effectively. Chronic pain can develop as a result of an injury or a medical condition such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer treatments, and more.

Chronic pain has the potential to be a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s work and social life, as well as their mental health. Pain is defined as chronic if it lasts longer than three months or continues to be an issue longer than the usual healing time for the underlying injury or condition.

In this article, we will explore chronic pain, some pain management treatments, and the potential effects of chronic pain.


Pain Management Doctors

Pain management doctors, like the professionals at Carolinas Pain Center, are healthcare providers who help individuals manage all types of pain. The different chronic pain management approaches they might employ include exercise, therapy, injections, and other pain medications. A single pain management treatment may work for one person, while others may need a combination of several.

These pain management plans are designed to help people dealing with chronic or long-term pain feel better and enjoy a better quality of life.

Diagnosing Pain

The first step to finding the best pain treatment for you is to establish what is causing it. The pain management provider helping you with your pain will ask you a series of simple questions such as:

  • When do you feel pain?
  • Where do you feel pain, and does it stay in one place or radiate (move)?
  • Does your pain get better or worse when doing certain activities?

These questions will help your provider understand the type of pain you’re dealing with, hopefully, identify the cause, and use that information to develop the most effective treatment plan for you. Remember that chronic pain medication can lead to drug addiction, and so there are chronic pain management guidelines that every provider must adhere to.

This is why the best pain management programs will combine a variety of treatment methods that address your pain both in the short and long term. 

What should I tell my pain doctor?

When talking to a pain doctor, it is important to be as detailed as possible so that they can help you effectively. If your provider gets the wrong idea about the severity, location, and limits caused by your pain, it can have a detrimental effect on your chronic pain relief treatment.

Things that can help you make sure you’re getting the best possible care include:

  • Keeping a pain diary with details of when, the severity, location, and what you were doing when pain occurred or got worse
  • Learning more precise words to describe your pain such as aching, burning, cramping, dull, piercing, tender, tingling, and more
  • Explaining how your pain affects and limits your life
  • Being clear about what your pain scale means to you — not everyone’s 10 is the same!
  • Being aware of potential bias due to gender, race, body type, mental health issues, and more
  • Bringing someone who can verify what you’re saying

Treatment Plans for Pain Management

Many believe that the most effective treatment for pain is simply to take a handful of painkillers and get on with their day. But just enduring the pain is not the answer either, as both can lead to a range of complications. These include possible prescription drug addiction, an underlying and treatable condition going undiagnosed and worsening, and more.

The preferred treatment for chronic pain will combine a variety of techniques that treat both body and mind and consider a patient as a whole person rather than just medicating their pain and ignoring everything else. This is not to say that pain management doctors won’t prescribe medication when necessary, though, and some examples of the type of medication they recommend include:

pain medication


  • Acetaminophen (like Tylenol)
  • Steroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone to alleviate pain and inflammation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen
  • Anti-seizure medications, which can be effective when treating pain caused by injury or nerve damage
  • Beta-blockers that slow down the heart and can stop hormones, such as adrenaline, from being released
  • Antidepressants that can both improve sleep and alleviate pain in certain circumstances



Pain management programs will also often utilize therapy, which can be aimed at both mind and body.

Physical therapy is an incredibly important part of an effective chronic pain treatment plan, as pain can be exacerbated by exercise that isn’t done properly or overdoing exercises. With a proper exercise plan, you will be able to improve fitness, build tolerance, and reduce your pain over time.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help people learn about themselves, have a better understanding of what is causing their pain and the effect it is having, and what they can do about it. It is all about identifying the role that pain plays in your life and what that means for you personally.

Other pain management options that a pain management doctor may use include:

  • At-home remedies such as heat and cold therapy
  • Exercise including yoga, tai chi, swimming, walking, and a planned gym routine
  • Hands-on treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT)
  • Lifestyle changes including the use of biofeedback therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, diet changes, and more


Chronic pain managementEffects of Pain Without Pain Management

People with higher pain tolerance, especially those whose tolerance has built up over time due to suffering from chronic pain, tend to simply endure their pain, often using nothing more than over-the-counter painkillers to manage it on their worse days. But this is one of the worst things a person can do, as constant pain has been proven to lead to a number of sometimes debilitating side effects.

It often surprises people to learn that chronic pain has been linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression, opioid dependence, disability, and more. This is usually because people tend to misunderstand the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. Pain becomes something completely different when you are dealing with it day in and day out for months and even years.


Get Help for Your Chronic Pain

Living with pain on a daily basis can be one of the most challenging things a person can endure, both mentally and physically. If you’re in pain regularly — or even occasionally — speak to a pain management doctor about developing a personalized pain management plan. Remember to be completely open and honest about when you feel pain, as well as what helps to ease it or makes it worse.

It is also important to tell them if you are feeling anxious or depressed or even just suspect that you may be dealing with these serious mental health issues. Inform them about any treatments you have tried, as well as if a treatment isn’t working or the pain keeps returning.

A good healthcare provider who is skilled in chronic pain relief treatments will work with you to adjust your program and find a method that is more effective for you. If you would like more information on chronic pain, please visit our resources page.