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Migraine Headache

Migraines are more than headaches. They’re a neurologic disease with symptoms that come on suddenly and can last for days. Specialized care from Henry Ford Health can lessen their impact on your daily life. Whether they happen frequently or occasionally, our headache experts help you get relief.

What is migraine?

With migraines, the brain is sensitive to changes in weather, hormones, stress and more. These changes, also known as triggers, cause headaches, nausea and sensitivity to light.

Symptoms can become so severe they affect your ability to work, perform chores, rest or socialize. Light physical activity often makes these problems worse. Migraine is genetic. If someone in your family gets frequent episodes, you may face a higher risk of experiencing them, as well.

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We have virtual care options available so you can see your doctor without leaving home. Find out if virtual care is right for you.
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Migraine symptoms

Migraines occur in stages and each one has different symptoms.

Migraine stages and symptoms you may experience include:

  • Prodrome: Slight changes that occur a day or two before a migraine headache. You may notice digestive issues, changes in appetite, concentration issues or irritability.
  • Aura: Visual symptoms such as flashing lights, blind spots or hallucinations. An aura may affect other senses impacting your ability to hear, smell or touch.
  • Attack: A headache with pulsating, throbbing pain on one side of the head. You may be sensitive to light or sounds. Some people experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Postdrome: Weakness, lightheadedness and depression may occur during this stage. Some people experience the opposite, intense excitement or happiness (euphoria).

Migraine headache help at Henry Ford: Why choose us?

Our fellowship-trained headache neurologists understand the many ways migraine can affect your well-being. We offer a level of experience that only comes from treating a high volume of migraine patients. Your doctor tailors your treatment to help release migraine’s grip on your busy life. Meet our headache and facial pain doctors.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Appropriate care: You receive the best medications for your migraine symptoms and the dose that’s right for you. Our focused approach helps many patients control migraines using less medication and lowers the risk of new or worsening symptoms.
  • Comfort: Henry Ford is the only program in Michigan with an infusion center dedicated to headache patients. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, you receive therapies through a vein in your arm while seated in quiet, soothing surroundings. Same-day care is typically available helping you avoid the noise and bright lights of the emergency room. Learn more about outpatient headache infusion therapy.
  • Focus on prevention: Your personalized care plan includes therapies and recommendations that help you gain greater symptom control. You may experience fewer migraine headache episodes and better response to treatment.
  • Coordination: We work closely with other Henry Ford specialists to help you access additional services that promote healing, like alternative medicine. You may receive acupuncture or therapeutic massage that treats pain by stimulating blood flow and positive energy. Find out more about integrative medicine.

Evaluation for migraine headaches

A thorough evaluation is the first step in our comprehensive approach to treating migraine. We listen as you describe:

  • What the headaches feel like
  • When migraine headaches and other symptoms typically occur
  • Therapies you’ve tried and whether you experienced relief or side effects
  • Your health history, including medications you take for other conditions
  • Whether there is a family history of migraines

In some cases, we recommend testing to rule out other causes of migraine-like symptoms. These tests include imaging studies to rule out abnormal brain structures or stroke.

Migraine treatments and prevention

We use a variety of treatments to treat and prevent migraines, including:

  • Migraine medications: Managing the early signs of a migraine with these medications may prevent symptoms from becoming severe.
  • Infusions: Receiving medications through a vein brings relief for severe migraine symptoms when drugs you take by mouth aren’t successful. Learn about outpatient headache infusion therapy.
  • Botox® and other injections: Botox blocks pain signals from the brain and may prevent future migraine attacks. Other drugs, like anti-inflammatories help you quickly get relief from severe flare-ups. Find out more about headache nerve blocks and injections.
  • Preventive treatments: Taking certain daily medications may reduce the frequency of migraine episodes.
  • Self-care: Avoiding triggers, when possible, getting the right amount of sleep and avoiding alcohol can lower your risk of migraine episodes.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery is necessary to release pressure on the nerves triggering your migraine symptoms. Find out more about surgery for headaches.
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