As common as migraines are, silent migraines are relatively rare. Only about 3-5% of people will ever experience a silent migraine (which is still a lot more common than many other conditions), but the common migraine affects up to 12% of people. Silent migraines are difficult to diagnose, but that doesn’t make them any less serious or debilitating. Here are 7 things you should know about silent migraines. We’ll conclude by discussing a natural way that many are breaking away from the grip of migraines.
#1 Migraines Don’t Always Have a Headache
The difference between migraine and headache becomes clear when one realizes that there are several types of migraines that do not include any head pain. This is possible because migraines are more than just a bad headache. This is a neurological condition. For example, a person may experience a visual migraine or a migraine that begins with aura but doesn’t lead to a headache (called migraines dissocie).
#2 Migraines Occur in Up to 4 Phases
The four phases of a migraine are:
- Prodrome – A warning phase that occurs up to 24 hours before a migraine actually begins
- Aura – Visual symptoms that usually occur 20-30 before a migraine
- Pain – The headache phase that many people use synonymously with the term migraine
- Postdrome – Up to 24 hours of symptoms that follow a migraine and are sometimes referred to as a migraine hangover
The only thing is, not every migraine includes all four phases and not every patient experiences all four phases. For example, only about 20-25% of migraineurs experience aura. Since about 85-90% of migraines include the pain phase, it throws some people off when this is the phase that is missing.
#3 Silent Migraine Symptoms Can Still Be Debilitating
What are the symptoms of a silent migraine if there is no pain phase? One of the most common symptoms is aura, which is interesting because this is one of the less common phases among migraineurs in general. When a person experiences aura, he or she may see spots, wavy lines, flashing lights, or experience tunnel vision. Other effects can occur besides just the visual ones. Hearing problems (including auditory hallucinations), speech problems, and numbness and tingling may also be present.
Of course, aura is not the only symptom of silent migraines. The patient may also experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, fatigue, and chills. When all is said and done, a migraine can be just as bad without the head pain.
#4 Silent Migraines May Be Related to Blood Flow the Brain
While the direct cause of migraines has still not been determined, research points to a lack of blood reaching the cerebral cortex. As a result, many doctors classify migraines as neurovascular – resulting from a combination of changes in both the nervous and vascular systems. This is especially true if the patient is dealing with aura. We’ll discuss what can be disrupting blood flow to the brain a little later in our article.
#5 Some Migraine Treatments Involve Off-Label Medication Use
Off-label use refers to a medication being prescribed for something other than what it was used for in clinical trials. Somehow doctors began to notice that some patients have fewer migraines on anti-seizure medications. It is important to remember, however, that these drugs have different effects on everyone. Some patients may experience fewer migraines while others may just get the side effects with no real benefits. The medications simply weren’t designed for this use, so the outcomes are uncertain.
#6 Silent Migraines Have Similar Triggers as Migraines with Pain
Migraineurs know that everything from a sudden change in the weather to strong smells or bright lights can lead to the onset of a migraine. The same is true for those who get silent migraines. Learning your migraine triggers can help you to avoid some of the circumstances that lead to migraines, but others are unavoidable.
#7 Natural Relief for Migraines Is Available!
Remember that migraines, especially silent migraines or migraine with aura, seem to be related to blood flow to the brain. Well, proper blood flow to the brain is facilitated by the cervical spine. How? The vertebrae in the neck have tiny loops of bone called vertebral foramen. These allow a place for the vertebral arteries to flow through on their way to the brain.
Unfortunately, this means that a misalignment can affect that free flow of blood. It has been noted in numerous migraine and headache patients that an upper cervical subluxation exists. Correcting this misalignment has helped many people in case studies to experience fewer or less severe migraines. Some have even gone from dealing with chronic migraines (15 or more days per month with symptoms) to being completely migraine-free).
It is no wonder that many migraine patients have a head or neck trauma somewhere in their patient history. If that sounds like you then you are probably a good candidate for upper cervical chiropractic care. This subspecialty of chiropractic focuses on the top two bones of the neck where the brainstem meets the spinal cord. These bones can affect both the nervous and vascular systems of the body when not in proper alignment. As a result, it just makes sense to get this area checked if you are experiencing migraines.
Upper cervical chiropractors are skilled in identifying even the slightest of misalignments in the C1 and C2 vertebrae using specialized diagnostic imaging techniques. To learn more, schedule a consultation with a practitioner near you.