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A migraine is a severe headache that can cause a number of debilitating symptoms, including throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, dizziness, and more. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, approximately 12% of the world’s population suffers from migraine headaches. Furthermore, 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of this condition. It’s important to note that patients can suffer from different kinds of migraines and migraine-like headaches. Some of the most common types include migraines with or without aura, cluster headaches, vestibular migraines, ophthalmologic migraines, tension headaches, sinus headaches, and more. Because there are more than 150 different types of migraines and headaches, it’s important for patients to visit a specialist to receive a thorough diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment.
Migraines can produce a wide range of symptoms depending on the cause and type of migraine the patient suffers from. These unique headaches typically develop in adolescence and early adulthood, and they often progress through a number of stages, but patients may not experience all of these stages. For example, patients may go through prodrome, aura, the actual headache, and then what’s called the “post-drome.” Prodome is the stage that occurs a day or two before the migraine and patients will usually experience mood changes, muscle stiffness, fatigue, and some nausea. If patients are affected by an aura right before their headache, they’ll most likely develop verbal, motor, and sensory disturbances for 20 to 60 minutes before the migraine. Shortly after the aura, patients will experience the migraine attack, which may last up to 72 hours. Symptoms of an actual migraine include pain on one or both sides of the head, throbbing or pulsating pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, and sensitivity to sounds, light, and smell. After the migraine attack, patients may go through a postdrome phase, which can cause confusion, weakness, mood changes, and more.
It is not known what causes migraines, but researchers believe chemical imbalances in the brain, genetics, and environmental factors all play a role in the development of this condition. There are also theories that different factors can trigger migraines, including hormonal changes, certain foods and food additives, drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, stress, bright lights and strong smells, insomnia, physical exertion, certain medications, and changes in the weather or atmosphere. In addition to triggers, there are certain risk factors that may make you prone to developing migraines. If you have a family history of migraines, are a woman in your 30s and are experiencing hormonal changes, you may be at an increased risk of being affected by this condition, as these factors make you three times more likely to develop migraines. Talk to a specialist at SWSP to learn more about the different causes, triggers, and risk factors related to migraines.
Treatment for migraines usually lies in preventing the patient from experiencing a migraine in the first place. Our team of pain and spine care specialists will often advise patients to eat balanced, healthy meals, exercise regularly, and review any medications that may be causing their migraines. After implementing some of these conservative changes, patients may benefit from taking oral pain medications before a migraine erupts. There are also pain medications a patient can use during their migraine attack. Apart from medications, patients may benefit from Botox injections, TENS units, acupuncture, and a combination of other alternative and interventional therapies. We may recommend keeping a headache diary to track what may be causing the patient’s migraines. If you suffer from migraines and migraine-like headaches, schedule an appointment with a one of our specialists today!