White woman curled up in bed in pain, covering her head with a pillow.

6 Fast-Acting Medications and Treatments for Severe Migraines and Cluster Headaches

Severe or acute migraines and cluster headaches are excruciating.

While there are many management, prevention, and treatment options, sometimes relief can’t wait. 

Let’s look at six prescription medications and treatments that can quickly knock out the pain from severe migraines and cluster headaches.

1. Sumatriptan (Imitrex)

Triptan drugs are fast-acting medications for acute migraines and cluster headaches.

They may be more effective for some people when combined with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen. 

In injectable form, Sumatriptan can provide fast relief from migraines and cluster headache attacks. Typically, a medical professional administers the first injection. 

Sumatriptan comes in nasal spray and oral forms. The nasal spray is for migraines and cluster headaches, and the pills are only for migraines. 

Whereas injectable and nasal Sumatriptan works in 15 minutes, oral Sumatriptan works in 30-60 minutes.

2. Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

Another triptan drug, Zolmitriptan, treats acute migraines and cluster headaches. It’s a fast-acting, painless treatment alternative for injections.

Zolmitriptan can be taken as an oral tablet to dissolve in the mouth, an oral pill to swallow, and a nasal spray.

The nasal spray works faster, taking one hour to bring significant relief, while the oral forms take two hours. 

3. Octreotide (Sandostatin)

Octreotide or Sandostatin is a synthetic form of the brain hormone somatostatin. It’s an effective treatment for acute cluster headaches but not for migraines.

However, it’s generally not as effective and doesn’t bring headache relief as quickly as Triptans. 

4. Anesthetic or Nerve Blocker 

An anesthetic or nerve blocker like lidocaine is a quick treatment for severe migraines and cluster headaches that you can’t take with you.

Only available in clinics and hospitals, administered by a medical professional, it’s an anesthetic injection into the back of the skull.

Though they aren’t accessible outside of a medical facility, nerve-blocking injections can provide pain relief from migraines and cluster headaches for months. 

5. Local Nasal Anesthetic (for cluster headaches only) 

A local nasal anesthetic is administered through the nose, providing quick cluster headache relief.

Unlike nerve blockers injected into the back of the skull, the pain relief from local nasal anesthetic wears off within hours. 

6. Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45)

Dihydroergotamine is a medication that may provide fast-acting pain relief for acute migraines and cluster headaches.

It’s effective for treating acute migraines and cluster headaches in injectable, intravenous (IV), and nasal spray forms. 

Though generally not as effective a treatment as triptans, Dihydroergotamine is associated with a low risk of migraines returning within 24 hours. 

Expert Treatment for Headache Disorders At Texas Pain Physicians

Do you suffer from severe migraine or cluster headache attacks?

Our board-certified pain management doctors will make sure you have the safe, fast-acting medication that’s right for you. 

Give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book an appointment today.