Which Rx for Migraine Relief?

Naproxen sodium found to relieve migraine pain and reduce the frequency of monthly migraines

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Many people are affected by chronic migraine attacks, but available treatments only offer momentary pain relief. Thus, migraine prevention remains a challenge.

A recent study compared the effectiveness of naproxen sodium versus sumaRT/nap (sumatriptan plus naproxen sodium) in treating migraines. The researchers tested each medication on the ability to help with acute (sudden) migraine attacks, as well as to prevent or lessen future migraines.

The researchers found that naproxen sodium was an effective treatment for both acute migraines and future migraines. SumaRT/Nap was found to treat acute migraines better than naproxen, but did not have an effect on future migraines.

The researchers concluded that naproxen sodium could be effective at treating acute migraines and decreasing the number of future migraine days if used frequently.

"Talk to your doctor about long-term migraine treatment."

The lead author of this study was Roger Cady, MD, from the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri.

The researchers examined 32 participants between the ages of 18 and 65 for three months. All participants had a verified history of between six to 14 migraines per month for at least three months prior to the study and before the age of 50. 

The participants were randomly put into two different groups. Group A was given 85 mg of sumatriptan plus 500 mg of naproxen sodium (SumaRT/Nap); group B was given 500 mg of naproxen sodium. The researchers instructed the participants to take the medications whenever they experienced an acute migraine attack.

The study's results showed that 21 percent of group B had reduced their migraine days per month by 50 percent by the end of the first month. Only 6 percent of group A had reduced migraine days by 50 percent at the end of the first month.

After the second month, 21 percent group B had reduced their migraine days per month by 50 percent, compared to 11 percent of group A.

By the end of the third month, 43 percent of group B had reduced their migraine days per month by 50 percent, versus 17 percent of group A.

At the end of the third month, the researchers found that group B had an average decrease of 3.2 migraine days each month, while group A had an average decrease of 1.2 migraine days per month.

From the beginning to the end of the study period, group B, on average, had reduced their migraine days per month from 5.4 to 3.4. Group A did not have a statistically significant reduction in migraine days per month over the study period.

The researchers discovered that SumaRT/Nap was a better treatment for two-hour headache relief during the second and third months. However, during the first month, the two treatments were equally effective for two-hour relief.

The researchers were not able to determine why naproxen sodium alone was more effective than SumaRT/Nap despite each treatment containing the same dosage of naproxen sodium. The researchers found no serious negative side effects of long-term use in either group.

The authors mentioned a couple limitations.

First, the sample size was small and the study period was a short period of time. The researchers argue that the conclusions of this study need to be examined within a larger, longer, and more detailed study.

Second, the researchers could not definitively determine the cause-and-effect nature of the changes in amount of migraine days per month. In clinical practice of migraine treatment, health professionals recognize that many different factors can affect the migraine frequency of a patient.

This study was published online  on September 10 in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

Funding was provided by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

Review Date: 
September 13, 2013
Last Updated:
February 7, 2014