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Why Do Migraines Hurt So Bad

Migraine Isnt As Bad You Say It Is

WHY DOES MY HEAD HURT SO BAD? WHY DO I KEEP GETTING MIGRAINE HEADACHES? HOW TO GET RID OF A HEADACHE

Move Against Migraine members agreed that it was common for people around them to not believe the magnitude of the disability associated with attacks. Bridget shared with the group that migraine looks different for everyone and that just because someones co-workers sisters friend has migraine does not mean they have a clue of what migraine is really like. Shes right and in situations like these, its important to express that there are different types of headache disorders and migraine in one person has no bearing on what migraine might look like in someone else. Like every disease, there is a spectrum of illnesses some are more severely affected than others. Moreover, even in the same individual, the severity of attacks vary from one to the next similar to other diseases such as asthma where one attack resolves within minutes without treatment while the next could put you in the emergency department or in the ICU on a ventilator.

To learn more about headache classifications or to determine what type of headache youre experiencing, download the AMF guide to common types of headache. If youre having difficulty explaining your disease to your loved ones or an unsympathetic boss or coworker, reading our free What to Do After a Migraine Diagnosis guide and Migraine at Work guide could help you lay the groundwork for a productive conversation.

Migraines And Your Long

While it’s good news that you can reroute your brain, it’s also important to be aware of the other ways chronic migraine — and how you deal with it — might affect your well-being.

For some people, when mental and physical pain come together, it can become overwhelming. Brennan calls it the “pain hole.”

Don’t let migraine take over the happy and productive parts of your life. If you find that you start to feel depressed, anxious, or are losing sleep or always stressed out, tell your doctor. Working with a therapist and getting support — along with good medical care for the migraines themselves — should help keep you well.

NEJM Journal Watch: “The Postdrome Phase of Migraine.”

Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Brain Plasticity and Behaviour in the Developing Brain.”

Current Opinion in Neurology: “Migraine Changes the Brain — Neuroimaging Makes Its Mark.”

K.C. Brennan, MD, assistant professor and division chief for translational neuroscience, department of neurology, University of Utah.

Neurology: “Migraine and structural changes in the brain.”

Cedars-Sinai: “Migrainous Stroke.”

Medscape: “Understanding the Patient With Migraine: The Evolution From Episodic Headache to Chronic Neurologic Disease. A Proposed Classification of Patients With Headache.”

Migraine Research Foundation: “Migraine Facts.”

National Headache Foundation: “Responsible Use of Opioids.”

Weakness On One Side Of The Body

When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.

Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.

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Okay Well Is There Anything I Can Do To Feel Better

You definitely dont have to lie in bed wallowing and in pain all day .

For starters, Newman suggests using an ice pack or hot packwhichever temperature you prefer. You can place it at the back of the head, on your neck, or right on your forehead. A hot or cold shower should also work as a soother, he adds.

If you really want to treat yo’self, a massage can also helpjust ask the masseuse to focus on your head and neck, says Newman. He also mentions theres a trigger point right between your index finger and your thumbthe web-like space between your two digits. Squeeze that area, and you could lessen the headache pain.

And if nothing else is working, popping a pain reliever like acetaminophen or aspirin can work, too, says Newman. He notes that migraine sufferers may also want to talk to their doctors about specific medications that might work better for their pain, as well as learn some stress-management techniques to avoid frequent triggers.

Whats The Best For Migraines

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Many people who have migraines find that over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen, can help to reduce their symptoms. They tend to be most effective if taken at the first signs of a migraine attack, as this gives them time to absorb into your bloodstream and ease your symptoms.

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How Migraines Shape Your Brain

Your brain is an organ that has “plasticity.” That means it changes and forms new pathways. It’s how you survive, grow, adapt, and work.

These brain changes can happen because of disease or pain, but they can also happen as a result of positive things, too. For example, Brennan says, the part of the brain that’s connected with a pianist’s hands will thicken as she trains and becomes more skilled.

When you have chronic migraine, however, your brain can start making pathways that encourage pain.

“Studies show a dysfunctional learning process in the brain in migraine and in other pain conditions,” Brennan says. “The brain learns to produce and perpetuate pain.” In other words, your migraine can teach your brain that pain is normal, so your brain changes to help pain happen more often.

Take heart — your brain can “unlearn” what your migraine is teaching it. But it’s not a quick fix.

“This isn’t an instant ‘be healed!’ process,” Brennan says. Finding a doctor who can treat all of your symptoms, with the right medications and procedures, along with good exercise, diet, and — most importantly — mental health care, is the key to retraining those pathways.

Causes Of Serious Headaches

Almost all types of headaches activate the same kind of pain receptors. That can make it difficult for you to know whether your headache pain is a sign of a serious condition or not. The most serious causes of headache pain include:

  • hemorrhagic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in your brain breaks and bleeds.
  • aneurysm. A bulge or ballooning blood vessel in the brain.
  • meningitis. A bacterial or viral infection that causes swelling in the protective lining of your brain.
  • brain tumor. A primary brain tumor begins in the brain and can be cancerous or noncancerous.

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How Do You Know If You Have Sinus Headache Or Migraine

Listing all the symptoms separately can be confusing and is perhaps why so many sinus headache sufferers have not been correctly diagnosed.

Instead, below are the key symptoms side by side, Sinus Headache vs Migraine, in an easy to follow checklist so you can quickly find out the truth.

If youre not experiencing fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a persistent green or yellow nasal discharge and you have a headache in the sinus area, then you likely have migraine. It is difficult for doctors of patients with migraine and sinus symptoms to acknowledge that a CT scan of their sinuses looks normal and does not show the inflammation, fluid or swelling they would expect after years of rhinosinusitis. Patients and their doctors often fall into the trap of believing that they are nipping sinus infections in the bud with frequent antibiotics and that is why they never get infected drainage.

Take a moment to digest. Most people from the study who were told this rejected the finding at first. They had been told by on average by 4 doctors that it was their sinus. They had also been wrongly diagnosed for an average of 25 years

Dehydration And Caffeine Withdrawal

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About one-third of people who get migraine attacks note dehydration as a trigger.

Obviously, you cant drink water while youre asleep, so its possible that waking up dehydrated is a reason why people are more prone to getting migraine attacks in the morning.

The wee hours of the morning also tend to mark a full day since your last caffeine fix. Coffee and other forms of caffeine dilate the blood vessels in your brain, relieving tension. And caffeine withdrawal has been connected to migraine attacks.

Migraine happens in several different stages. You may wake up with the pain of a migraine attack, but that doesnt mean you didnt experience the other phases of migraine in the hours or days before the pain.

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Do Brain Tumours Cause Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of a brain tumour, but they are also common in healthy people, and can be due to many everyday causes.

The headaches are not caused directly by the tumour itself, as the brain has no pain receptors, but by a build-up of pressure on pain-sensitive blood vessels and nerves within the brain.

The build-up of pressure can be due to the tumour pressing on these vessels/nerves or by the tumour blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain.

Headaches are rarely the only symptom of a brain tumour.

Doctors do NOT generally worry if your headache is:

  • occasional
  • mild
  • doesn’t last long
  • has an identifiable cause, such as a hangover, lack of sleep, flu-like illness, sinus infection or if you have been ‘fasting’ or overusing medication.

However, people often worry whether their headache is due to something more serious, such as a brain tumour, particularly if they have frequent or severe headaches causing a lot of pain.

If you’re worried, you should speak to your doctor, who can undertake a neurological examination. This involves testing your vision, hearing, balance, reflexes, arm and leg strength, and coordination. If this examination does not show anything outside the normal range and you have no other symptoms, you are unlikely to have a brain tumour.

Actions to take

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

  • Will my child grow out of their migraines?
  • What medications do you recommend for me?
  • What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
  • Should I get tested?
  • What type of migraine do I have?
  • What can my friends and family do to help?
  • Are my migraines considered chronic?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.

References

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Botulinum Toxin Type A

In June 2012, NICE recommended the use of a medicine called botulinum toxin type A by headache specialists to prevent headaches in some adults with long-term migraine.

Botulinum toxin type A is a type of nerve toxin that paralyses muscles.

Its not exactly clear why this treatment can be effective for migraine.

NICE recommends that this treatment can be considered as an option for people who have chronic migraine that has not responded to at least 3 previous preventative medical treatments.

Under the NICE guidelines, botulinum toxin type A should be given by injection to between 31 and 39 sites around the head and back of the neck.

A new course of treatment can be given every 12 weeks.

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Managing Migraine To Manage Postdrome

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Avoiding factors that you know trigger migraines may help reduce your likelihood of postdrome or at least reduce the duration and severity as well as the potential for triggering another full-blown attack. For many people, stress can trigger or exacerbate their migraine, so take time after a migraine attack to focus on your mental health and take care of yourself. Regular exercise, a consistent sleeping pattern and a healthy diet can help reduce stress, as can relaxation techniques like meditation. Eat healthy, nutritious meals frequently and try to get more sleep. If light is a migraine trigger for you, dont be afraid to keep things dark for a few days as you go through the postdrome phase.

If youre experiencing postdrome, take this time to focus on yourself and your well-being to help your body recover from each migraine attack and its aftereffects. A headache specialist can help you better understand your unique migraine experience and identify patterns that help you manage your migraine and postdrome. Visit the American Migraine Foundations guide to migraine and headache specialists to find a partner in your treatment journey.

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When Should I Seek Help For My Headaches

Sometimes, headache can signal a more serious problem. You should talk to your doctor about your headaches if:

  • You have several headaches per month and each lasts for several hours or days
  • Your headaches disrupt your home, work, or school life
  • You have nausea, vomiting, vision, or other sensory problems
  • You have pain around the eye or ear
  • You have a severe headache with a stiff neck
  • You have a headache with confusion or loss of alertness
  • You have a headache with convulsions
  • You have a headache after a blow to the head
  • You used to be headache-free, but now have headaches a lot

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Other Types Of Headaches

Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of conditions associated with headaches. Here are just a few:

Medication headaches. Many drugs number headaches among their side effects. And although it seems paradoxical, many medications used to treat headaches can also cause medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Migraine sufferers are particularly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of pain leading to more medication, which triggers more pain. If you have frequent headaches and use medication, OTC or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. The way to find out is to discontinue or taper your medication but always consult your doctor first. A corticosteroid such as prednisone may help control pain during the withdrawal period.

Sinus headaches. Acute sinusitis causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, or in the upper teeth. Stooping forward increases the pain. Thick nasal discharge, congestion, and fever pinpoint the problem to the sinuses. When the acute infection resolves, the pain disappears. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic or recurrent headaches.

Ice cream headaches. Some people develop sharp, sudden headache pain when they eat anything cold. The pain is over in less than a minute, even if you keep eating. If you are bothered by ice cream headaches, try eating slowly and warming the cold food at the front of your mouth before you swallow it.

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Are Sinus Headache And Migraine Easily Confused

Yes, they are according to the research. The pattern of migraine pain is different for individual patients. While the most easily recognized migraine headaches are localized to one side of the head, many patients feel pain or pressure on both sides, or in the neck or sinuses. This is because all of these areas are innervated by branches of the nerve that are most involved in migraine. For patients with sinus symptoms the most frequent patterns of pain and pressure are across the forehead and behind the eyes, but any sinus area or combination is possible.

A study called SAMS recruited the first 100 people to respond to their local ad. The ad asked those to come forward who believed they had sinus headache. Each participant was carefully examined in a 90-minute evaluation and imaging tests were conducted.

The findings showed that most of them had been wrongly diagnosed and in fact had a diagnosis of migraine.

Living With Constant Headaches

Why Does it Hurt so Bad?

For most of us, an occasional headache is nothing more than a temporary speed bump in the course of a busy day. Even so, most men can ease the problem with simple lifestyle measures and nonprescription medications. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, yoga, and acupuncture may also help. But for some of us, headaches are a big problem. Learn to recognize warning signs that call for prompt medical care. Work with your doctor to develop a program to prevent and treat migraines and other serious headaches. And don’t fall into the trap of overusing medications for some gents, rebound headaches are the biggest pain of all.

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Throbbing Pain On One Or Both Sides Of The Head

Pulsating pain is a classic sign of migraines. The throbbing is often felt on one side of the head.

In an online survey of patients with migraines, the National Headache Foundation found that 50% “always” have throbbing on one side, while 34% say they “frequently” have this symptom.

Migraine pain often burrows behind the eye.

People will blame it on eye strain and many will get their eyes checked, but that won’t make their headaches any better, Dr. Messina says.

Are These Your Symptoms

From those patients confirmed with a migraine diagnosis in the study:

  • 83% noticed the weather affected their headaches
  • 73% noticed seasonal variations in their headaches
  • 62% said their headaches were triggered by allergies
  • 56% had nasal congestion
  • 25% had a runny nose
  • 22% had red eyes
  • 19% had watery eyes

You could be forgiven for thinking these symptoms are sinus related. They look a lot like the symptoms you might expect from a sinus infection so its no surprise that there is a significant amount of confusion between sinus headache and migraine.

Results found that 9 out of 10 patients in the study had migraine, not sinus headache.

Furthermore, the 100 patients from the study had seen an average of 4 physicians each and had gone on average 25 years without the correct diagnosis or significant relief.

Thats 25 years without significant relief and 4 physicians who had gotten the diagnosis wrong!

The lead investigator of the SAMS study Dr. Eross says It was hard to convince some of them that they actually suffered from migraine headaches, said Dr. Eross. Many were shocked.

One in ten people from the study knew they had migraine, but thought they had sinus headaches in addition. In reality they actually suffered two different types of migraine, one with sinus symptoms and one without, Dr. Eross noted.

Much of the pain or pressure is in the face, on both sides, so it doesnt occur to them that this might be a migraine. Dr Eross

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