What Are the Symptoms of a Migraine Headache?

As a Pain Doctor will tell you: “Migraines are about 3 times more common in women than men, & may affect more than 12 percent of the adult population. Migraines often run in families, & can start as early as infant school, but most often in early adulthood. They can fade away later in life, but can strike at any time. Being the most common cause of recurring, disabling headache pain, migraines are also the most common underlying cause of disabling chronic, daily headache pain” [1], & the reason why Pain Consultants are continually called upon to give an accurate diagnosis, & cutting-edge multi-faceted Personalised Treatment Plan

Did You Know?

Although migraines are regarded as primary headaches (meaning there is no recognised underlying cause), migraines are linked to: “an increased risk of stroke, brain scarring as seen on MRI scans, a heart defect called a patent foramen ovale (PFO) and other medical conditions” [1]. So to that end, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is extremely important to have an in-person or on-line consultation with a registered Pain Doctor, as soon as possible.

Migraine Headaches: Signs and Symptoms to Look Our For

• Individual migraines generate an intensity on a scale from moderate to severe
• They are frequently characterised by a feeling of pounding or throbbing
• Whilst migraines are often one-sided, they may appear anywhere on the face, neck, or all over
• At their worst, migraines are normally linked to sensitivity to smell, noise, and light
• Migraine headache pain can be preceded by an aura in up to one in four sufferers
• Nausea is classed as one of the most common migraine symptoms. This gets worse when people are involved in an activity – something that can result in patient disability
• In many ways, migraines can be compared to alcohol-related hangovers
• Migraine pain can be felt in the face, where it may be incorrectly diagnosed as a sinus headache
• Migraine pain can also be felt in the neck, where it may be incorrectly diagnosed as a muscle spasm or arthritis
• The diagnosis of migraine is also complicated by other “sinus like” symptoms, such as a sense of facial pressure, nasal congestion, and watering eyes. In fact, the majority of people who think they have sinus headaches, are actually suffering from migraines. So to that end, all of the aforementioned, stresses the crucial need for an accurate diagnosis from a Pain Doctor, as opposed to a GP who has not undertaken the years of speciality training and practical clinical experience [1]

What is a Migraine Aura?

This symptom describes a temporary neurological syndrome which progresses slowly, and then typically disappears as soon as the pain begins. And although it has to be said that the most common form of migraine aura incorporates visual disturbances (blind spots, flashing lights, and zigzags); a large percentage of sufferers also experience vertigo (spinning dizziness), difficulty speaking, confusion, numbness, and other stroke-like neurological symptoms. Moreover, some individuals may experience auras without headaches [1].

How Would a Pain Doctor Diagnose My Migraines?

Regardless of the strong symptoms generated by migraines, in the majority of cases, they are not caused by underlying issues that can be detected via any form of testing, including MRI scans. Indeed, as long as the sufferer has typical migraine symptoms, and they undergo a comprehensive neurological examination, some Pain Consultants do not recommend any brain imaging at all, even when the migraines are severe.


[1]. John Hopkins Medicine (2024). “Migraine Headaches.”