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Finding ways to treat migraines

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MADISON (WKOW) -- More than 30 million adults are affected by migraines in the United States and it’s the second leading cause of disability worldwide. 

Shelly Kahl, from Madison, is one of those adults and she said she’s had migraines for 20 years. 

“No matter what I do, I have them. The longest I think I went was like nine months with a migraine almost daily,” Kahl said. 

Migraines are painful, throbbing headaches that can last from four to 72 hours and they may be so painful that you are not able to do your usual activities, according to UW Health

Kahl said her migraines feel like intense pressure on her head and she becomes sensitive to light and sound.

“When I have a really severe migraine, it’s completely debilitating. I can’t get out of bed, I can’t open my window shades, I can’t turn on a light, I just lay there in quiet darkness,” Kahl said. 

Kahl has tried different medications and CBD to prevent them but she says sometimes they help and other times they don’t. 

For people who have tried all of their options and still have severe migraines, a pain management expert at UW Health recommends a procedure called radiofrequency ablation

Dr. Alla Abd-Elsayed from UW Health said it's a nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to reduce or stop the transmission of pain. 

“The heat is actually damaging the nerve because we put it at higher degrees like 80 degrees, and because the nerve is damaged basically that can help improve the migraine,” Abd-Elsayed said.

The heat is transmitted through needles, probes, and a machine. Experts have found patients who've done this procedure have less headaches and reduce their medications. 

While Kahl hasn’t considered medical procedures for her migraines, she encourages others to find things that work for them like trying yoga, mediation, taking naps, or drinking more water. 

“Prevention is our best option. Doing what we can, lifestyle changes to really prevent these migraines,” Kahl said. 

Both Kahl and Dr. Adb-Elsayed encourage people to talk to their doctors about other options if certain medications aren’t working for them.

Alyssa Hui


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