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Diagnosing Migraines — Why They Can Be Difficult to Identify

Chronic migraines are severe headaches that occur 15 or more days a month for at least 3 months and are not caused by any other condition or injury. They impact roughly 14 million American adults, yet despite their prevalence — the condition can be difficult to diagnose. The National Headache Foundation estimates that fewer than 50% of all those who suffer from migraines, receive a proper diagnosis.

As a result, many do not get the care they need.

A Migraine Diagnosis

One problem in diagnosing migraines is that a headache is often a symptom of another problem. For example, high blood pressure can cause headaches. Pain management professionals must eliminate potential underlying conditions before diagnosing a migraine.

A proper migraine diagnosis requires a detailed health history, including:

  • Headache frequency and duration
  • Pain severity – Accompanying symptoms
  • Effect on everyday activities – Family history
  • Events surrounding headache development
  • Treatment attempts and results

Wide-Ranging Symptoms

Another problem with diagnosing migraines is the range of migraine symptoms. Some people, for example, may describe their headache pain as a vise-like band circling the head, while others feel a throbbing pain on one side of their head.

Symptoms can also vary from one migraine event to the next in the same person. Typical symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Visual impairment or auras
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Pain that pulsates or throbs

Chronic Migraines Can Be Very Serious

Chronic migraines are the most debilitating of all headaches. Studies have shown that those with chronic migraines have higher rates of depression, anxiety and fatigue than people who have less frequent headaches. Chronic migraine patients also report lower quality of life and reduced ability to work outside the home. In addition, chronic migraine patients have higher rates of heart disease and stroke. Thus, a correct diagnosis is not only essential for treating the migraines but also for treating or preventing these other associated conditions.

Finding Help

Help is available here at Pasadena Pain Management for those with chronic migraines.  We have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of head pain disorders, including headaches/neck pain, migraines, and TMJ jaw pain.

If you are living in Southern California and are tired of living with chronic pain from headaches, migraines, or a TMJ disorder, contact Pasadena Pain Management for a FREE consultation.

Let us help you start living PAIN FREE again.