Man with Migraine
December 11, 2019 | by The Polyclinic

Not all headaches are migraines and not all migraines are the same. Migraines are caused by an intricate neurological disease that can be trigged by multiple lifestyle and environmental factors. Diagnosing migraines can require the expertise of a doctor (neurologist) trained in deciphering causes of the pain.

In this article, we answer patients’ frequently asked questions about migraines and when to seek help from a specialist.

What are the most common symptoms in patients with migraines?

Aside from the typical symptom of excruciating headaches, most people with migraines also experience light and sound sensitivity, poor sleep quality, and tension in the neck and shoulders.

What are the types of migraines you see most often?

The most common type of migraine I see is a migraine without an aura. It’s the most frequent type and there is no warning when the migraine occurs.

What are the treatment options for migraines?

Treating a migraine requires identifying triggers, preventing attacks, and ending the symptoms. I take a holistic approach using a range of options from physical therapy and biofeedback to medications, vitamins, and even Botox to help relax the muscles of the head and neck.

What should a patient with migraine symptoms look for in a neurologist?

As conditions like migraines can be influenced by multiple factors, it’s important to look for a neurologist who is interested in seeing them as a whole, not just their condition.

What is a frequently asked question that a patient with migraines asks you and what is the answer?

“Why do I have migraines?" I have two answers for this: a migraine is thought to be a genetic condition completely out of one's control, and at the same time, there are usually several things in our lives that are unknowingly triggering them in the first place.

Resources

The Polyclinic Neurology
Why Tolerate a Bad Headache

Not All Headaches are the Same

Migraine with aura (complicated migraine)

An aura comes before a migraine and can last 10-30 minutes. It is the second of a migraine’s four stages and can signal severe pain ahead.

Migraine without aura (common migraine)

Lacks a warning sign. Symptoms can include pulse or throbbing pain, pain made worse by activity, nausea, or vomiting.

Migraine without head pain

Also known as a silent migraine, this type can create an aura experience, visual disturbances and nausea, but no head pain.

Hemiplegic migraine

Weakness on one side of the body with visual aura symptoms. Some patients experience a “pins and needles” sensation or even a loss of sensation on one side.

Retinal migraine

Refers to headaches that affect vision, causing you temporarily lose vision in one eye.

Chronic migraine

While severity can vary by episode, chronic migraines often refer to headaches lasting more than 15 days.

Ice pick headaches

It feels like it sounds – like you are getting stabbed with an ice pick in the head.

Cluster headaches

Burning pain around and above the eyes, temples or back of head; red or swollen eyes.

Cervicogenic headache

Pain in your head that is caused by pain in the neck. It can be attributed to a lesion on the spine.

Source: American Migraine Foundation

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