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

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

Severe or acute migraines and cluster headaches can hit in minutes and cause excruciating pain. 

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

Let’s look at seven fast-acting prescription medications and treatments.

1. Sumatriptan

Prescription triptan drugs can get rid of your acute migraines and cluster headaches in minutes. 

Sumatriptan, the fastest-working drug on this list, works fastest in injectable form. Typically, a medical professional administers the first injection. 

Whereas injectable and nasal Sumatriptan can start providing relief in 15 minutes, oral Sumatriptan takes 30-60 minutes. The nasal spray is for migraines and cluster headaches, and the pills are only for migraines. 

2. Oxygen (for Cluster Headaches Only)

Strapping a mask over your face and taking in pure oxygen can start relieving severe headache symptoms from cluster headaches within 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, oxygen can be very inconvenient as a severe headache relief option because you either have to take it at a medical facility or carry a portable tank with you.

3. Zolmitriptan 

Another prescription triptan drug, Zolmitriptan, is a fast-acting nasal spray alternative to injections that treat migraines and cluster headache attacks.

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, providing noticeable relief as soon as 10 minutes (typically taking an hour to bring significant relief).

The oral forms typically take two hours to noticeably relieve pain (probably not fast enough, especially for a cluster headache).

4. Octreotide (for Cluster Headaches Only)

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

It can provide relief within 30 minutes, though it’s generally not as fast-acting or effective as Triptans. 

5. Nerve Blocker 

A nerve blocker like lidocaine is a quick treatment for migraines and cluster headaches — but you can’t take it with you. Some people experience improvements in their symptoms within 15 minutes.

It’s a procedure administered by a medical professional at a medical facility that involves receiving an anesthetic injection into the back of the skull.

Nerve-blocking injections can provide pain relief from migraines and cluster headaches for months. 

6. Local Nasal Anesthetic (for Cluster Headaches Only)

A prescription local nasal anesthetic, such as lidocaine, can provide a numbing effect for cluster headache pain within minutes.

Like nerve blockers and oxygen, this treatment is only available for administration in a medical facility. Also, this isn’t a long-term option, as pain relief from a local nasal anesthetic wears off within hours. 

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

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

It’s available 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 headaches, or think you might?

Our board-certified pain management doctors can find what’s causing you pain and ensure you have safe, fast-acting medication.

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

Woman with migraine

Want Extended Relief from Chronic Migraines? 7 Things to Know about Botox Treatment

The thudding pain feels like getting kicked in the head again and again. 

You can only lay down in a dark, quiet room until it goes away.

There is no known cure for chronic migraines.


Imagine living with fewer migraine attacks – or no attacks – for months. Imagine not having to take pain meds all the time.

It’s possible with Botox injections for migraines. Here are seven things to know about this treatment.

1. Does Botox treatment eliminate migraine attacks?

According to the American Migraine Foundation, studies show that Botox injections for migraines reduce the number of days patients suffer from migraines or other headaches by 50%.

2. How does Botox stop migraine attacks?

Botox, or botulinum, is a neurotoxin extracted from mold. Well-known for its use as a cosmetic treatment, the FDA approved Botox as a treatment for migraines in 2010.

Though doctors don’t know precisely how Botox stops migraines, they suggest that it blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.

3. Who can get this treatment?

Those with diagnosed chronic migraine. Chronic migraine symptoms:

  • headaches at least 15 days of each month
  • eight migraine headaches each month
  • these symptoms occur for at least three months

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, a headache specialist or neurologist prescribes the treatment.

4. What’s a Botox treatment session like?

The neurologist typically administers shots of Botox in the head and neck once every three months. Doctors don’t give Botox injections more often than every three months because this could trigger the body’s immune response, which would make the treatment ineffective.

Doctors trained to treat migraine with Botox administer the injections (not plastic surgeons trained to use Botox for cosmetic purposes). Around 30 to 40 injections are administered evenly to each side of the head and neck.

5. How long does it take to see results?

Results come within 2 to 3 weeks, and the effects last 10-12 weeks. Alternative medication is needed to treat migraines during the ineffective period. Patients see better and better results after multiple treatment cycles.

6. Are there any side effects?

The most common side effects are swelling and bruising at the injection sites. Less common side effects include head and neck pain and headaches.

7. Does insurance cover this?

Botox injection sessions as a treatment for chronic migraines cost thousands of dollars a year. A patient’s insurance company will cover the treatment when the patient has been diagnosed with chronic migraine headaches.

Insurance companies may not cover Botox treatments for adolescents and children.

Migraine treatment in Houston, Dallas, and many other Texas locations. 

Don’t allow this debilitating condition to interfere with your life a day longer.

At Texas Pain Physicians, we have a team of doctors who specialize in pain management. Botox injection is one of our treatments for chronic migraines.

Please give us a call at (972) 636-5727 to set up an appointment at your nearest Texas Pain Physicians location.