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Migraine Pain - Facts About It!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Poonam Patel Vasani 91% (903 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Anaesthesiology, FIPM, Fellowship in palliative medicine, certificate in interventional pain management, Multidisciplinary pain management course
Pain Management Specialist, Pune  •  13 years experience
Migraine Pain - Facts About It!

Migraine headache is characterized by a severe headache usually affecting one side of the head. There are other symptoms along with headache like nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. Some patients experience neurological phenomena like changes in vision, temporary loss of sensation and altered sensation, a phenomenon known as an aura (flashes of light, zigzag patterns, bright spots, tingling in the arms and the legs). Migraine headache can last for 2 to 3 days. 

Symptoms: The symptoms depend on the stage of a migraine attack. The stages of a migraine attack can be: 

  1. Prodrome, Aura, Headache or attack, and Postdrome. 
  2. Prodorme: One to two days prior to the migraine attack, patient may experience; 
    • Mood swings. 
    • Cravings for food. 
    • Increased yawning. 
    • Stiff neck. 
    • Constipation and frequent thirst and urination. 

In case of an aura (during or before a migraine), there may be visual, motor, speech, and sensory illusions and disturbances such as, 

  • Loss of vision. 
  • A strange sensation of needles pricking an arm or a leg. 
  • One side of the body becomes weak and numb. 
  • There are visual illusions such as the appearance of flashes of light, zigzag patterns, bright spots. 
  • There is a problem in hearing and speaking. 
  • In some cases, there may be a hemiplegic migraine (the limb becomes weak). 

During a Migraine Attack (lasts for 4 to 72 hours), there may be 

  1. A throbbing pain on either one or both sides of the head 
  2. Blurred vision, light-headedness. 
  3. Nausea and vomiting 
  4. Sensitivity to light and sound 
  5. Sensitivity to touch and smell (though rare) 

In Postdrome (after a migraine), there can be 

  1. Mood swings. 
  2. A person may be sensitive to light and sound. 
  3. Dizziness and weakness 
  4. Confusion 
  5. Extreme fatigue 

An amalgamation of environmental and genetic factors may be responsible for a migraine. Trigger varies for each patient: 

  1. Stress and extreme physical exertion 
  2. Obesity 
  3. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks and beverages 
  4. Salty and processed foods 
  5. Altered sleeping habits 
  6. Hormonal alterations in women (Constant fluctuation in the level of oestrogen) 
  7. Oral contraceptives and certain vasodilators (nitroglycerin
  8. Preservatives like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and Aspartame (sweetener) 
  9. Sunshine, certain odours, travel, etc can trigger migraine. 

Treatment and Prevention: 

  1. Medicines under supervision to abort an attack of migraine and special drugs to stop attacks. 
  2. Lifestyle changes are helpful to decrease attacks: 
    • Avoid your trigger for migraine. 
    • Follow regular sleep -wake cycle. 
    • Regular exercise, meditation
    • Avoidance of alcohol, caffeine containing beverages. 
  3. Other treatment options that can be availed from pain specialist: 
    • Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation 
    • Intramuscular stimulation. 
    • Botulinum toxin injection. 
    • Occipital nerve block.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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