Medical Specialties: Family practice, Neurology

Clinical Definition

A migraine is a headache disorder that impacts more than one in ten people. Migraines tend to be recurrent and can be moderate to severe. Pain occurs when excited brain cells trigger the trigeminal nerve to release chemicals that cause the blood vessels on the surface of the brain become dilate and become inflamed which results in pain. Migraines often have triggers and can run in families.

In Our Own Words

Migraines are throbbing headaches that recur and last several hours up to several days. People often describe a pounding pain that can be felt on the temple or around the eyes. Sometimes associated with jaw or neck pain. If not controlled, migraines can be debilitating, with many “headache days” in a month. You might be sensitive to bright lights or sounds and may experience nausea with your migraine.  A brain process with changes in nerve cell activity leads to inflammation of the blood vessels and pain in the head. Migraines can be triggered by emotional or stressful events, certain chemicals, caffeine, fatigue, sleep changes, menstrual periods and missing meals.  About one quarter of people with migraines also get the auras or visual or sensory changes before the headache.

Relevant Conditions
  • Chronic tension
  • Caregiver burnout
  • Tension headache
Common Types
  • Classic migraines
  • Complicated migraines
Side Effects
  • Pounding or throbbing head pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Aura
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