The short answer is “yes”. But, of course, you didn’t come here for a short answer, did you? 🙂
Years ago, many doctors became concerned that triptans such as Imitrex (sumatriptan) would not work as well once the patient developed allodynia. (By the way, the allodynia here that we’re talking about is sensitivity/pain when the skin is touched – see My Hair Hurts! Migraine and Allodynia) In fact, it was soon repeated over and over that triptans need to be taken early in a migraine attack (for example before allodynia hits) in order to be most effective.
Now, taking medication earlier in the attack (as opposed to taking the same dose later in the attack) does seem to work better for a number of reasons. Quite simply, as migraine triggers more and more severe symptoms, you can end up with a vicious circle of pain that is very hard to stop.
However, the relationship between triptans and allodynia may not be so simple. For example, even if allodynia has already hit, if you take a triptan early in the attack it can still be effective (see Difference in Triptan Effect in Patients With Migraine and Early Allodynia)
Allodynia is something to be concerned about. Not only can it be uncomfortable or even disabling, it may be a predictor of chronic migraine. Plus, the frequent use of triptans can cause all kinds of problems, including medication-overuse headache.
So if someone has allodynia, can they take Imitrex? Yes, they can, but:
- They should talk it over with a doctor who knows their symptoms and medical history.
- It’s possible that another medication may work better for them, especially if allodynia is a major symptom.
- If they are taking Imitrex or another triptan several days a month or more, they need to seriously look at other treatment options.
- As with many migraine abortives, it’s still recommended that you try to take something early in the attack rather than several hours later. This applies whether you suffer from allodynia or not.
Take treatment seriously – it will help you avoid many more problems in future years.