The University of Minnesota Health launched its new Headache Care program just two weeks ago. Ahead of Migraine Awareness Month, in June, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to the University of Minnesota Health to find out how the new program is designed to help migraine sufferers in a whole new way.
“It’s more than just a headache,” said Salonda McClendon, a 41-year-old patient.
University of Minnesota Health said about 1 billion people worldwide suffer from migraines. McClendon has been suffering from migraines for more than 20 years.
“A lot of my friends didn’t understand what a migraine was, and they thought maybe I was just faking to get attention or something like that, but it’s a real diagnosis and we deal with it on a day-to-day basis and it’s hard, it’s hard,” McClendon said.
She’s hopeful about the University of Minnesota Health’s new, unique Headache Care program, which has a mix of traditional and alternative approaches.
“We are trying to create something that people will model after us,” University of Minnesota Health Nurse Practitioner, Ludmila Johnson, said.
For people with chronic migraines — meaning they have 15 or more headaches a month and at least eight intense, severe migraines, each lasting 4 hours or more — the new program is offering Botox, as well as a treatment approved less than a year ago by the FDA called monoclonal antibody injections, which work to prevent migraines by chemically targeting pain sensors in the brain.
Johnson said figuring out the causes and treatments isn’t easy because migraines are complex and mysterious. She said approximately one in five women and one in 16 men suffer from migraines.
McClendon said, “The last one I had, it lasted for 2 days, and it made me vomit, my eyes were sensitive to the light.”
The new program will work to help more precisely pinpoint triggers and treatments. It isn’t just a team of neurologists; it’s also made up of physical therapists, pharmacists, dentists, psychologists, and physical medicine-rehab physicians.
University of Minnesota Health said 44 percent of people experiencing severe headaches or migraines are never diagnosed, adding there are many triggers including stress, scents, lack of sleep, and sensitivity to light or noise, explaining that sufferers can experience extreme pain in parts of their head, as well as vomiting, blurred vision and nausea or dizziness.