Shot of Aspirin: Potential New Treatment for Migraines?

Study finds aspirin injections may treat some migraine sufferers.

ByABC News
September 20, 2010, 7:14 PM

September 21, 2010— -- Most headache sufferers have their own tricks for relief -- drink water, take an aspirin, exercise, or perhaps take a nap. But for more than 29 million migraine sufferers, the agony can be much more difficult to escape.

New research suggests aspirin taken intravenously -- a migraine treatment already widely used in Europe -- may be an effective treatment for migraine patients in the U.S.

Researchers reviewed records of 168 patients hospitalized in London for chronic daily headaches and were given an average of five doses of intravenous (IV) aspirin. Two thirds of the patients reported a decrease in pain following the treatment, according to the study published Monday in the American Academy of Neurology.

Aspirin pills are effective in treating acute forms of migraines. A more intense delivery of aspirin through IV injection may provide relief for a more intense type of headache, said Dr. Peter Goadsby, co-author of the study and director of the headache clinic at University of California, San Francisco.

Twenty percent of migraine patients are currently taking potentially addictive medications that contain barbiturates or opioids that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the relief of migraines, according to the National Headache Foundation.

Medications work faster when injected than when taken as a pill. And although many quick-acting treatments are available for migraines, Goadsby said his team reviewed IV aspirin as perhaps one of the only non-sedating and non-addictive IV medications that could work for some patients with severe migraines.

"It [this study] also demonstrates that migraine patients are not looking for sedation or addiction, they're looking for relief," said Goadsby. "And if you can give them relief with all of the other side effects, then they'll be fine."