Migraines: Should you see a neurologist?

We tell you about migraines and how our doctors can help.

October 27, 2020


Not all headaches are migraines and not all migraines are the same. Migraines are caused by a complicated neurological disease and are influenced by many factors, such as: 

  • Lifestyle
  • Environment, or the area and spaces you live and work in  

A neurologist is a doctor who's an expert on the brain and nervous system. Often, people need the help of a neurologist to figure out why they are having migraines. We can help you figure out if you need the help of a neurologist. 

What are common migraine symptoms?

The usual symptom of a migraine is a lot of pain. Most people with migraines also have:

  • Sensitivities to light and sound
  • Poor sleep quality 
  • Tension in the back and shoulders

What are the four migraine stages?

There are four stages of a migraine:

  • Prodrome
  • Aura
  • Attack
  • Postdrome

The prodrome stage can start up to two days before a migraine. It can include:

  • Constipation
  • Neck stiffness
  • Mood changes
  • Yawning more than normal 
  • Being more thirsty than normal 
  • Food cravings that aren’t normal
  • Feeling a need to urinate more than normal

The aura stage is a kind of physical or visual sign that a migraine will happen soon. These signs may include: 

  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Having “blind spots”
  • Feeling a tingling in the limbs or face

The attack stage is the migraine itself. A migraine attack can last from four to 72 hours with: 

  • Pain on both sides of the head or on just one side of the head
  • Throbbing or pulsing pain
  • Having a bad reaction to light, sounds or smells
  • Possible vomiting or feeling of nausea

The postdrome stage is after a migraine attack. After a migraine, you may feel one or more of the following ways:

  • Happy
  • Confused
  • Very tired

What are the types of migraines?

Migraine without aura (common migraine) 
The most common type of migraine is one without an aura. Most migraines have no warning sign that they are about to happen. Symptoms can include a pulsing or throbbing pain. With common migraines, the pain can be made worse by physical movement, nausea or vomiting. 

Migraine with aura (complicated migraine)
The aura before a migraine can last 10 to 30 minutes. It can signal serious pain is ahead.

Migraine without head pain
This kind of migraine is also known as a silent migraine. This kind of migraine can create an aura, visual disturbances and nausea.

Hemiplegic migraine
With this kind of migraine, you can have weakness on one side of the body with visual aura symptoms. Some people have a feeling of “pins and needles” or even a loss of feeling on one side of the body.

Retinal migraine
This kind of migraine can affect vision. It can also cause short-term loss of sight in one eye. 

Long-term migraine
This type of migraine varies in severity, and each one can be different. This kind of migraine can last more than 15 days.

Ice pick headache
This type of migraine feels just like the name sounds, as if you are getting stabbed in the head with an ice pick.

Cluster headache
With this type of migraine, you can have a burning pain around and above the eyes, temples or the back of head. You can also have red or swollen eyes.

Cervicogenic headache
With this type of migraine, you have pain in your head that is caused by pain in the neck. It can be caused by a wound or sore on the spine.

What care is available for migraines?

To care for a migraine, we need to:

  • Find the migraine triggers or causes
  • Stop migraine attacks
  • End the symptoms 

At The Polyclinic, we offer a holistic approach using: 

  • Physical therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Medications
  • Vitamins
  • Botox®

Botox has been found to help relax the muscles of the head and neck in some patients.

What kind of neurologist do I need? 

Migraines can be influenced and caused by multiple factors. It’s important to look for a neurologist who's interested in seeing your symptoms and you as a whole.

Why do I have migraines? 

This is the question about migraines we get asked most often. Genetics is the science that looks at traits you inherit from your parents at birth, like eye color. Some doctors think migraines are caused by genetic factors.

There could be other triggers that play a role in migraines. You can work with a neurologist to find out what triggers your migraines. Some of these triggers could be:

  • Food 
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Menstruation
  • Sleeping too much
  • Not sleeping enough 
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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.