Going to the Emergency Room for Headache Treatment: Is Prochlorperazine Effective?

By | March 15, 2017
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What Is ProchlorperazineMany people with migraine end up in the emergency room asking for sincere help from physicians. The problem is that migraine is a contentious topic in the emergency room and physicians tend to believe that most patients are drug seekers.  In the majority of cases, bona fide patients with migraine or any other type of headache are offered mediocre and inferior treatment. Most of these people have a terrible experience in the emergency room but have very little choice. There is a certain belief among healthcare workers that patients with headaches tend to be hypochondriacs and are always search for addictive medications from the emergency room.

In many cases, physicians start administering non-traditional anti-migraine drugs and withhold narcotics. This means that the real patient misses out on definitive care for their migraine headaches.

Prochlorperazine vs Imitrex

Now there is research showing that perhaps these patients are not losing out at all. The latest study indicates that use of drugs like Prochlorperazine (Compazine) is better than Imitrex for emergency treatment of migraine.

The recent study was blinded and included 66 patients between the ages of 18-50. Some patients received Prochlorperazine intravenously and other received sumatriptan subcutaneously.

The majority of patients who received Prochlorperazine noticed that they had a faster headache relief and better function compared to those who received sumatriptan. Moreover, patients who got Prochlorperazine also had fewer sensations of nausea.

This study showed that drugs like Prochlorperazine are not only more effective but far less expensive than the newer anti-migraine drugs and also have much with fewer side effects. Other past studies have shown similar results but this is the first study to compare Prochlorperazine to Imitrex.

What Is Prochlorperazine?

Prochlorperazine is an older anti-psychotic drug and when used intravenously can provide immediate relief from a migraine headache. Most people find headache relief within a few minutes. However, it has to be given intravenously and the patient is also given some fluids, as one of the side effects of this drug is a drop in blood pressure. Within 2-4 hours, most patients are discharged home without any problems.

Another similar drug is chlorpromazine which is also used intravenously to stop migraine attacks. Many older physicians still use these drugs rather than narcotics to provide immediate relief from migraine headaches.

Last Thoughts

So the next time you visit the ER for your migraine headache, ask for some Compazine (prochlorperazine)- it does work, the relief is instant and it is a lot cheaper than any narcotic or Imitrex.

Orr SL, Friedman BW, Christie S, Minen MT, Bamford C, Kelley NE, Tepper D. Management of Adults With Acute Migraine in the Emergency Department: The American Headache Society Evidence Assessment of Parenteral Pharmacotherapies. Headache. 2016 Jun;56(6):911-40.

One thought on “Going to the Emergency Room for Headache Treatment: Is Prochlorperazine Effective?

  1. Xdeem Li

    Wow, going to the emergency room because of a headache! That can’t be fun, and it must be severe. I don’t know how that feels because I’m fortunately to never experienced a headache that painful. However, I’m sure there are people out there that deals with constant migraines all the time. Thanks for the sharing the information about prochlorperazine, its always good to know. Cheers.


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