MINNEAPOLIS -- Thirty-nine million Americans struggle with migraines, and Dr. Rashmi Halker Singh with the Mayo Clinic thinks that number's low.
"Every day in clinic I'm telling a patient that what they have is migraine, and they tell me - you know, I didn't realize that's what I was having, I thought migraine was something else," said Dr. Halker Singh via Skype.
A migraine's defined as a throbbing, intense headache on one side of the head, lasting at least four hours. It can cause nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. And, for years, it's mostly been a mystery.
"It's a complex neurobiological disorder, it's a problem of brain function, so there's a problem of pain transmission within the pain pathways of the brain. And, we think it has a genetic basis," said Dr. Halker Singh.
This week, the FDA approved Aimovig. It's a monthly shot and the first drug designed specifically to prevent migraines by targeting a protein in the brain called, "calcitonin gene-related peptide" or CGRP.
"CGRP is released during a migraine attack and this new medicine is supposed to help block that," said Dr. Halker Singh. "It won't prevent all migraines and it won't help all patients, I think that's important to note. You know, migraine is still a very complicated, complex process, we're learning new things about it all the time. What makes this treatment noteworthy is it's the first time we have a treatment specifically designed to treat migraine. So, for some patients it'll be very helpful, but not for all patients."
But, Aimovig is a start, that Dr. Halker Singh says, has little to no side effects. And, she expects it to be available in less than a month.