In late August, Australia joined the increasing list of nations that could potentially benefit from the newly approved preventive migraine medication Aimovig. Aimovig is the first of a class of medications called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) blockers. This type of medication holds significant promise for migraine sufferers, but we are not entirely sure how well it will be tolerated long-term.
How Aimovig Works
As a CGRP blocker, Aimovig seeks to stop what seems to be a crucial step in migraine formation in many people. We have long known that the trigeminal nerve plays an important role in triggering migraines. The trigeminal nerve is a large nerve in the face that carries signals to and from many muscles in the face, including the jaw muscles.
When the trigeminal nerve gets irritated, it can release CGRP, which causes the blood vessels in the brain to expand. In the cramped space of the skull, this puts pressure on the brain, causing pain. To make matters worse, CGRP itself can also trigger pain.
By blocking the receptors that link to CGRP, Aimovig can cut off migraines before they start. Aimovig is recommended for people with chronic migraine (15 or more migraine days a month). People are prescribed either 70 mg or 140 mg of Aimovig, which they take every four weeks. The dosage comes premeasured in an injection pen.
Does Aimovig Work?
So how well does Aimovig work? In the past, some of the studies have been underwhelming, but recent data released by the manufacturer, Novartis, is quite impressive. In the three-year study, people taking the larger dose of Aimovig saw their average migraine days drop by 10.5 days, while those taking the lower dose saw them drop by 8.5 days on average. Most people (67% for the larger dose and 53% for the smaller dose) saw their migraines drop by 50% or more per month, and significant numbers (42% and 27%) saw their migraines drop by 75% or more. A small number (13% and 6%) experienced complete relief from migraines.
Overall, safety seems to be good, but because CGRP is an immune system signal, blocking it can increase the risk of infections, such as respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, and flu. Other safety risks may remain undiscovered since few people have been taking the drug for very long.
Drug-Free Migraine Treatment
On the other hand, if you are looking to treat your migraines without drugs, you can consider temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) treatment.
Many people with TMJ develop migraines. TMJ often leads to serious muscle strain in the jaw muscles. This muscle overactivity can irritate the trigeminal nerve, triggering the release of CGRP. By cutting down on the muscle overactivity, you can reduce the irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which in turn can cut down the frequency of migraines, while at the same time controlling other TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain, tinnitus, and tooth damage.
To learn whether you might be a good candidate for TMJ treatment to help control migraines in Sydney, please call (02) 9686 7375 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at My Hills Dentist in Baulkham Hills.