Are migraine headaches disrupting your life? It’s no wonder! For at least 40 million Americans, the stabbing pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and other migraine symptoms can make even the simplest activities a challenge.
Although migraines aren’t uncommon, many people believe the only symptom of a migraine is the headache itself. The truth is that migraines come in different stages, and headaches are only one of these stages.
At Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, Dr. Christopher Brooks offers expert diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches. If you’re one of the many American adults suffering from the debilitating effects of migraines, take a moment to learn about the stages and how we can help you find relief.
Understanding the different stages of migraines
Although migraines are often called severe headaches, head pain is one symptom of migraines. Migraines typically begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, but they can develop at any time, no matter your age. Migraines come in four distinct stages. Here’s a closer look:
Stage 1: The premonitory, or prodrome, phase
The first stage of migraine, called the premonitory or prodrome phase, occurs before the migraine truly begins. This phase brings symptoms that act like a warning beacon that a migraine is coming, including:
- Food cravings or reactions
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Sensitivity to light, smell, or sound
- Unexplained mood changes
Some people also notice digestive trouble, like diarrhea or constipation, during stage one.
Stage 2: The aura phase
In the second stage of migraines, the aura phase, you might experience sensory disturbances that impact one or more of your main senses, including sight, touch, and your ability to speak.
Aura phase symptoms can take place before or during your migraine attack and include symptoms such as:
- Seeing zig-zag lines, flashing lights, or blind spots
- Tingling or numbness in your arms or face
- Speech issues, like slurring or jumbling words, trouble writing, difficulty understanding what people are saying, and problems with your thinking
Some people don’t have aura phase symptoms until after their headache subsides.
Stage 3: The headache phase
The third stage, the headache phase, is the one most people imagine when they think about migraines. Migraine headaches usually occur on one side of your head and can range from mild pain to pain so severe that medical intervention is required.
During the headache phase, physical movement, light, sounds, and certain smells may worsen your pain. Keep in mind that although the headache phase is typically the most problematic for migraine sufferers, not everyone with migraine episodes gets a headache.
Stage 4: The postdrome phase
The final, or postdrome, phase of migraine arrives after the headache phase subsides. Sometimes referred to as a “migraine hangover,” this phase occurs as your body tries to recover from the previous stages.
Stage four can be as disruptive to your life as the headache itself and can last days. It may cause you to feel fatigued, confused, or generally unwell. It’s frequently accompanied by body aches, sensitivity to light and sound, and can make concentrating a challenge.
How migraine pain is treated
The first line of attack when it comes to treating migraine pain is to keep track of any triggers and try to avoid them. Your provider may also recommend other treatments, including:
- Lifestyle changes to help manage migraines, such as dietary changes, regular exercise, and practicing healthy stress management
- Medications to alleviate the pain and/or intensity of migraine headaches, like anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and ergotamines
- Medications like Botox®, which relaxes the muscles in your head and neck, or Aimovig®, which targets a specific protein receptor linked to migraines
Unfortunately, lifestyle changes and supplements aren’t always enough to provide sufficient relief. And even though migraine medications can help, for many migraine sufferers the side effects caused by these treatments are often just as bad or worse than the migraine itself.
Migraine headache surgery
For patients whose migraines don’t respond to lifestyle changes or medications, Dr. Brooks may recommend migraine or nerve decompression surgery. This specialized treatment reduces the frequency of migraines and minimizes the intensity and duration of your pain.
It works by alleviating pressure on specific sensory nerves or blood vessels in your head, called trigger points, most commonly in the forehead (frontal), temples (temporal), nose (rhinogenic), and across the back of the head (occipital).
Up to 92% of surgery patients experience a 50% or greater reduction in the frequency of their migraines, and about a third say their migraine headaches stop completely.
The best part? With migraine headache surgery, you don’t have to worry about the unpleasant side effects that come with migraine medications.
You don’t have to struggle through migraine pain — effective treatments are available to help you find relief. Get started with migraine treatment by contacting Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, and scheduling a consultation today.