A common misconception about migraines is that they are severe headaches. But migraines are a neurological disorder, with headaches as one of the symptoms. Medical researchers have deemed migraines as the most disabling condition. Discover migraine causes and potential therapies from your neurologist NoMad in New York City.
Difference between migraines and headaches
A migraine is a genetic condition that affects blood vessels and nerves. The sensations typically occur on one side of the head. Symptoms may vary between patients, but non-headache symptoms are common for people with migraines.
On the other hand, a headache describes a symptom of pain sensations on parts of the head. A migraine can also be referred to as a primary headache. Unlike a secondary headache, a primary headache does not arise from an underlying health condition.
There are several types of primary headaches. They include tension headaches, cluster headaches, and paroxysmal hemicrania.
Primary headaches have symptom patterns that may resemble migraines. Your neurologist can conduct tests to diagnose migraines and related conditions accurately.
Types and symptoms of migraines
The most notable sign of a migraine is a throbbing or pulsating sensation on the side of your head. The symptoms may vary depending on factors specific to the patient.
Typically, a migraine occurs in four phases. Approximately a third of migraine patients experience symptoms before the headache. The phases are:
- Prodrome: Some patients notice physiological signs several days before the migraine. Symptoms may include constipation, frequent urination, and neck stiffness. The prodrome phase may appear before the pain and may fail to appear at all in other instances.
- Aura phase: The aura phase triggers neurological changes that may cause visual or sensory problems. Vision problems are present in 99% of patients. They typically affect the field of vision. The aura phase can last from a few minutes to about an hour. Other symptoms include pins and needles sensations or weakness on one side of the body.
- Intense headache: The third phase sometimes occurs alongside the aura. The pulsating headache usually starts from one side of the head and may spread to the opposite side. The pain may last from four hours to three days.
- Postdrome: The postdrome phase occurs after the pain sensations begin to subside. Despite the diminishing pain, patients may experience debilitating symptoms. It may cause cognitive challenges, fatigue, and stomach complications. The postdrome phase affects eight in 10 patients with migraines.
Migraine treatment options
The ideal treatment will depend on the results of your health evaluation. Some medications can relieve symptoms or prevent future incidences with a daily prescription. Nonetheless, overusing medication can lead to neurological problems that worsen symptoms.
Peripheral neuromodulation is one of the non-invasive and FDA-approved treatments for migraines. It targets nerves causing headaches. It is a suitable option in severe cases or where treatment with anti-migraine medications is not viable.
Another treatment option is radiofrequency ablation which numbs nerves causing pain. It can reduce pain within a few weeks after the procedure. Radiofrequency ablation may eliminate the need for pain medication.
Contact Modern Migraine MD to schedule a consultation for the most effective migraine interventions today.