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Migraine Headache Treatment

What is a migraine headache?

“Migraine is ranked the top three most prevalent disorder in the world, and the top seventh highest causes of disability worldwide.1

According to the International Headache Society, a migraine attack usually occurs on one side of the head, although the side may change from episode to episode. The pain intensity can range from moderate to severe with a pulsating and throbbing like pain. It can cause nausea and vomiting as well as, sensitivity to light, smell and sound during an attack. Migraines can last anywhere between 4 hours to 3 days and can leave those disabled and bedridden during an attack.

Types of migraines

There are many different types of migraines which sufferers are often incorrectly diagnosed. It is important that your symptoms are thoroughly assessed in order to obtain a correct diagnosis. From thereon, your migraines can be accurately treated and managed. Below are the common types of migraines.

1. Migraine with Aura

In many sufferers, migraines can also be accompanied by ‘aura’. Aura is the term used to describe gradual development of neurological symptoms, which precedes a migraine attack. It lasts from 20-30 minutes, followed by the main attack.

Symptoms may include:

  • Altered vision with flickering lights, dark or white spots, lines, waves, or in some cases temporary loss of vision
  • Sensory symptoms such as a burning or prickling sensation, or loss of sensation
  • Speech disturbances
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Sensitive to light, sound and smell
  • Abnormal sensation, weakness or numbness down one side of the face or body
  • Confusion

2. Migraine without Aura

Migraine without aura occurs in approximatley 70-90% of people with migraines. This refers to a migraine attack without the visual disturbances such as flickering lights, colourful lines, dark or white spots, or temporary vision loss. These attacks will usually occur without warning and pain is usually felt on one side of the head.

Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light, sound or smell
  • Diarrhea

3. Migraine without Headache (Silent Migraine)

Migraine without headache, as the title suggests are for those who suffer with the associated migraine symptoms, however without any typical head pain or headache. This indicates that the actual pain in the head is completely absent. Although the headache pain is absent, migraine without headache can still be debilitating due to the other side effects it comes with.

Symptoms may include:

  • Altered vision with flickering lights, dark or white spots, lines, waves, or in some cases temporary loss of vision
  • Speech disturbances
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Sensitive to light, sound and smell
  • Abnormal sensation, weakness or numbness down one side of the face or body
  • Confusion
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea

4. Chronic Migraine

Chronic migraine is classified by having migraine and headache attacks more than 15 days per month, for more than 3 months in a row. Of these attacks, at least 8 require to be migraines, and other attacks can be other forms of headaches such as tension-type headache. These migraines can be with or without aura, and are usually disabling due to the frequency of attacks per month.

5. Episodic Migraine

Episodic Migraine is classified by having migraines and headache attacks less than 15 days per month. These migraines can be with or without aura, and are usually disabling due to the frequency of attacks per month. Including both episodic and chronic migraines, it affects approximately 14% of the worlds population, and up to 18% of women.3, 4

6. Migraine with Brainstem Aura (Basilar-Type Migraine)

Migraine with Brainstem aura more commonly occurs in children and adolescents. It most often occurs in teenage girls and can be associated with the commencement of their menstruation. This migraine include Migraine with Aura symptoms, and usually originates from the brainstem, without the symptoms of motor weakness (muscle weakness). Due to the origin of this disorder it can affect the balance of that person with vestibular symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance issues
  • Vertigo
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Fainting
  • Temporary partial or total vision loss or double vision
  • Throbbing pain on either side of the head

7. Hemiplegic Migraine

Hemiplegic migraine is a form of migraine that causes temporary paralysis to one side of the body. This usually occurs prior to or during a migraine attack, which can last from one hour to several days. During an attack the person will experience temporary weakness which can involve the face, arm or leg, and is usually accompanied by pins & needles or numbness. The attack can be terrifying as symptoms mimic and are similar to a person suffering from a stroke. The head pain can be similar to a typical migraine with aura, or at times be absent.

Symptoms may include:

  • Vertigo
  • Pricking or stabbing sensation
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Speaking difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Temporary partial or total vision loss

What is the cause of migraines?

The traditional, though outdated theory of migraines and how migraines occur was originally thought to be dilatation of the blood vessels (relaxation and expansion of the blood vessels that allows for increased blood flow) inside the head to cause an increase in blood flow to the head. This old theory was thought to be interpreted as damaging, and therefore pain, in the form of a migraine-like pain. This theory, however, has been debunked in more recent research, as the changes in blood flow are insignificant and minimal, and is considered unrealistic to apply the symptoms of Migraine with such a small change in blood flow5. Hence, the old theory of migraines being a vascular issue has been proven false.

Discoveries within recent research have found the primary contributing factor to be related to the neck, predominantly a fault in the upper cervical spine resulting in a SENSITISED BRAINSTEM. A sensitised brainstem and more importantly, a sensitised trigeminal cervical nucleus has been shown to be the cause in pain reproduction to the head.  This indicates migraines are due to a neurological disorder rather than a vascular disorder. Clinicians around the world are now pointing to the neck as the cause of migraines and are now treating the cervical spine rather than prescribing medications6.

I’ve already tried everything. What else can be done to help Migraines?

You may have tried countless amounts of medications to assist with your migraines. Some medications can have great results, and some others may not have any effects. The question you need to ask yourself is, “are medications treating the cause of my problems, or only masking the pain?” The answer is, medication only masks the pain by treating symptoms, rather than treating the cause of the problem. Many other sufferers have also trialled many treatment modalities such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), physiotherapy, chiropractors, acupuncture, massage, osteopaths, altering diets, injections to the neck and scalp, surgery to the neck, or radiofrequency (RF) or cauterisation of nerves. Despite their efforts, they still live a life filled with migraines.

Modern medicine continues to improve and new literature continues to grow, and unfortunately this means that no one can keep up with all the latest research. Many practitioners rely on the outdated medical model of how to treat headaches and migraines. Here at the Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, we specialise in treating migraines. Therefore, we continue to have a team who keeps up to date with the most recent research, and applying the most effective treatments on our patients. We have seen many with chronic migraines and use world-class techniques in assessing and treating the neck. A thorough examination of the upper cervical spine is initiated to determine the severity of your SENSITISED BRAINSTEM. Our unique assessment procedure will determine the cause of your migraines, and identify whether your migraines are due to a sensitised brainstem.

If deemed appropriate and treatment commences, we expect a significant improvement to occur rapidly in 90% of our patients with Migraines, within the first 5 treatment consultations. We’re not in the business of giving false hope. If we don’t think our treatment can help you, we will let you know after the initial consultation. Our treatment is effective in alleviating or dramatically reducing migraines in 85-90% of sufferers.

Watch the video to understand more about Migraines.

Imagine living a life free from migraines and saying goodbye to medications!

To gain your Migraine Headache recovery in Brisbane today contact us on 1800 HEADACHE (toll free)

1800 43 23 22


1. Global Burden of Disease Survey 2010

2. Olesen J et al. Cephalalgi2006; 26:742–746.

3. World Health Organization. Headache disorders. Fact sheet N°277. 2004.
4. Stovner LJ, Hagen K, Jensen R, Katsarava Z, Lipton R, Scher A, Steiner T, Zwart JA. The global burden of headache: a documentation of headache prevalence and disability worldwide. Cephalalgia. 2007; 27 :193–210. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2007.01288.x.
5. Goadsby, P,J, (2009) The vascular theory of Migraine. A great story wrecked by the facts. Brain, 132 (1), pp 6-7.

6. Andrew Charles – Professor of Neurology at UCLA interviewed on “Health Report” on ABC. Available on podcast

Common Headaches Treated

The Assessment

Phase 1

Accurately diagnose your condition for effective treatment

The Treatment

Phase 2

Experience the latest treatment methods that are evidence-based

The Results

Phase 3

A life free from migraines or headaches is now proven possible

The Difference

Phase 4

A medication-free solution that treats the cause not the symptons

Call for relief  1800 HEADACHE