Facts

  • One of the most common sites of pain in the body is the head

Overview

A headache describes pain arising from the upper neck or head. This pain does not come from nerves but from tissues and structures surrounding the brain, as the brain does not have nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain. When tissues and structures surrounding the brain become inflamed pain may result. A migraine headache involves and intense pulsing or throbbing sensation in one area of the head. Migraines can cause pain for a few hours to a few days.

Types

  • Migraine headaches are considered a primary headache

Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound

Migraine headaches may progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, headache (attack) and postdrome.

Diagnosis/Tests

Diagnosis for migraines is based on personal and family history, a review of your symptoms, and a physical or neurological examination. If your condition is unusual, complex, or suddenly becomes severe, other tests may be ordered to rule out other possible causes for your pain. These tests may include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Spinal tap
  • Blood Tests

Causes

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Imbalance in serotonin levels

Common triggers for migraines include:

  • Stress
  • Drinking i.e. alcohol, caffeine
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Sleep changes
  • Environmental changes

Treatment options & care

  • Acupuncture
  • Over the counter pain medications
  • Prescription pain medications
  • Preventative medications i.e. antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs
  • Hot or cold compress