Migraines: More than just a pain

Migraine animated

When people hear about those suffering from migraines, the first thing that comes to mind is the pain. This can easily be relegated down to that of a common headache by an untrained eye. Migraines manifest as much more than a common headache however and hiding behind the pain is a creeping and complicated neurological disorder.

When it comes to the underlying mechanisms behind migraines, there is still a lot of information still left to uncover. Those suffering from migraines have what I to refer to as sensitive brains. Triggers that would have little to no effect on other people such as bright lights, loud sounds, strong scents can have huge detrimental impacts on those diagnosed with migraine.

The pain centers of the brain in people with migraines can often behave out of the norm however, the changes that occur in the brain in response to migraines are not limited to a pain response from the body. It is confirmed through functional imagine studies that there are changes that can occur throughout the brain often expressed as cortical depression. This is a propagating change in balance which leads to a decreased electrical activity of the brain. This phenomenon may explain why during a migraine onset, people may not be able to think or concentrate well. Other symptoms associated with the neurological impact of migraines can include visual changes, dizziness, numbness, tingling, weakness, vertigo, or even paralysis.

These neurological effects can occur before the headache and are diagnosed as Migraine with Aura with one of the most invasive types known as Hemiplegic Migraine. The neurological symptom from this condition can look just like a stroke with paralysis on an entire side of the body before the headache even develops. These underlying symptoms associated with migraines are unfortunately quite common with visual changes like blurred vision and flashing lights as some of the most often associated with migraine.  

This is just a brief introduction of the lasting impacts associated with migraines that often debilitate people’s daily lives. It’s not just pain, it’s so much more. Stay updated on the blog to learn more.

Dr. Sharisse Stephenson Dr. Stephenson is a Neurologist and a Board Certified Headache Specialist and Brain Injury Medicine Specialist. She has postgraduate training in neurological disorders and stroke management from Tufts University in Boston.

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