Getting a headache can be difficult enough, but people who frequently get migraines might find it impossible to concentrate. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea and a variety of other symptoms that can make going to work extremely unpleasant and getting work done next to impossible. Anyone who has been struggling with severe headaches should go to the doctor so that they can determine if the headaches are actually migraines. Once the cause of the pain is determined, the patient can begin to work with the doctor to determine where the headaches are coming from and what kind of treatment they can use to lessen the migraines. People can also look into disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are headaches that typically occur on one side of the head and are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivities to light and sound. Additionally, migraines can last for several hours to a few days at a time. Some people get migraines several times a month, and some people only get migraines once a year or less.
No one knows for sure why some people experience migraines and other people don’t, but genetics and environmental factors probably have something to do with it. There are a few hypotheses as to what else might cause some people to get migraines. One possibility is that the amount of serotonin in the brain plays a role in migraines. Another possibility is that interactions between the brainstem and trigeminal nerve play a role in migraines.
Hormonal changes can trigger migraines, especially for women when they are pregnant, going through menopause, or at certain times throughout their monthly cycle. Another common trigger for people to get migraines is alcohol, especially wine. People will also get migraines during and after stressful events, if they get too much sensory stimulation, have changes in their sleeping patterns, or exert a lot of physical energy. People can also experience migraines if there are weather changes, they begin taking certain medications, or eat certain foods that have additives or are processed in certain ways.
Some people with migraines try to medicate themselves by taking non-prescription pain relievers, such as Excedrin Migraine, ibuprofen, and aspirin. This can be dangerous, and people who do this can even begin to need more medicine to get the same amount of relief.
Symptoms of Migraines
While not every person who gets migraines goes through all the stages, there are four stages that a person can get when they have a migraine. The exact symptoms will somewhat depend on the stage, but not every person who gets migraines will go through all four stages.
The first one is the prodrome stage, which occurs a few days before the migraine. During this stage, the person might notice frequent yawning, constipation, food cravings, mood changes, and a stiff neck.
During the second stage, which is called the aura phase, it’s common for people to see shapes and flashes of light that aren’t there in the physical world, or some people might lose their vision temporarily. Experiencing pins and needles sensations, hearing sounds, having difficulties speaking, and having uncontrollable jerking movements are also possible.
The attack phase is typically when the pain symptoms are the worst. During this phase, the pain is often throbbing, and people experience increased sensitivities to light, smell, and touch. They will also likely experience nausea and vomiting.
The final phase is post drome. In this phase, most people feel drained, and sudden head movements might bring the pain back for a short amount of time. Conversely, some people feel a sense of elation instead of fatigue in this final stage.
Treatments for Migraines
Since there isn’t a cure for migraines, treatments are aimed at relieving the pain of a migraine when it happens and preventing future migraines by giving treatments over a long course of time.
There are several types of drugs that can bring relief to someone who is in the attack phase of a migraine. One of the first types of drugs that a person might take is over-the-counter pain killers. These will likely include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Triptans are a prescription pain reliever that works by blocking the pathways for pain in the brain. Dihydroergotamines, lasmiditan, and ubrogepant are all drugs that help with sensitivity to light and pain. Opioids are sometimes given to patients who don’t respond to any other treatments, but they are highly addictive, so they’re a last-resort option. Finally, anti-nausea drugs can be prescribed to people who are highly nauseous when they get migraines.
Many people with migraines also take medications aimed at shortening the duration, lessening the frequency, and lessening the severity of migraines. Medications that lower blood pressure can be useful to people who get migraines with auras. Antidepressants and anti-seizure medications can also help prevent migraines. Finally, the use of Botox for migraines has only been used for the last several years, but this is an option for people who don’t respond to other types of treatments. Injections are typically given in the forehead and down through the base of the skull.
Disability Benefits for Migraines
There are some disabilities that are specifically listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which is the guide book that’s used to determine whether or not someone is eligible for disability benefits. Unfortunately, migraines aren’t one of the listed conditions. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way for people who suffer from chronic migraines to gain disability benefits if they can’t find a treatment that will relieve their symptoms.
Since there isn’t a specific listing, applicants must prove that they’re unable to earn a living by working. For instance, if someone who works in a factory is exposed to loud sounds that further trigger their migraines, they might decide that they need to discontinue working there to alleviate some of their symptoms. But even if the workplace isn’t what triggers the migraines, it might be possible to receive benefits if the primary care provider isn’t able to find a treatment that will alleviate the migraines and the migraines severely impact the applicant’s ability to work.
When applying for benefits, there are several pieces of information that the SSA will likely want record of. For instance, the SSA will look at limitations that the applicant experiences on a regular basis, but they’ll also look at what kinds of employment options they have. Plus, the SSA will look at the medical evidence to determine whether or not it backs up the claims that the applicant is making.
Some of the medical evidence that the SSA will likely want to see includes imaging scans, the process the doctor used to rule out other conditions, a list of the medications that the applicant has tried, and a list of all of the symptoms, especially any that a doctor has witnessed firsthand.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to migraine headaches, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.