Where do migraines hurt? Pain areas and symptoms

Migraine is a neurological disorder that usually feels like a headache beating on the side of the head and can last from a few hours to a few days.

But, you may also experience migraine pain in your forehead, eyes, and neck. This is because the type of migraine can determine where you feel pain and what type of pain.

Migraine attacks usually occur in stages, so the types and intensity of your symptoms may also vary depending on the stage you are experiencing.

Unlike your typical headache, however, migraine pain is usually more intense, lasts longer, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

The experience of migraine pain can be different from person to person and from migraine to migraine.

In general, your head will likely feel like it’s under pressure, and different areas of your head, neck, or eyes may feel like they’re throbbing or throbbing. But you can also experience different sensory disturbances and not feel any pain.

Migraine without aura (aka common migraine)

Where do you feel it? one side of your head

Intensity: moderate to severe

Migraine without aura is also known as common migraine. It usually lasts between 4 and 72 hours and causes throbbing, pulsating pressure on one side of the head.

Physical activity usually makes the common migraine worse, and you may also feel nauseous or even vomit.

Migraine with aura

Where do you feel it? pain behind the eyes – sometimes the forehead or on one side of the head – plus sensory disturbances

Intensity: mild to severe

Migraine with aura is often concentrated behind the eyes, but you can also feel it on the forehead or on one side of the head. You will also experience additional symptoms, thanks to these restless auras.

Auras essentially amplify a migraine attack, adding a whole bunch of sensory disturbances on top of the headaches. This may include:

  • blind spots or loss of vision
  • ringing in the ears
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • dizziness
  • tingling or numbness
  • slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • reduced motor skills
  • muscular weakness

According to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 25-30% of migraine sufferers will experience migraine with aura. Aura symptoms typically last 5 minutes to 1 hour, while headaches can persist for up to 3 days.

There are also several subtypes of migraine with aura, such as retinal migraine, silent migraine, and hemiplegic migraine.

Chronic migraine

Where do you feel it? pain varies from the forehead, one side of the head, or behind the eyes

Intensity: varied

If you have 15 or more migraine days per month, you probably have chronic migraine.

Chronic migraine is categorized by frequency of attack, rather than where or how you feel the pain. Symptoms can change over time, so you may feel pressure on one side of your head during one attack and behind your eyes the next.

To keep you on your toes, the intensity of the pain can also vary depending on the day and the migraine attack.

Silent migraine

Where do you feel it? you feel no pain, but experience aura symptoms

Intensity: varied

Silent migraine is a type of migraine with aura – minus the headache part.

Before you hope you get this type of migraine on others, beware. Even if there is no headache, silent migraine is always accompanied by other aura symptoms, including:

  • vision problems
  • numbness or tingling
  • nausea or vomiting
  • speech problems
  • dizziness

Abdominal migraine

Where do you feel it? pain in the stomach area

Intensity: moderate to severe

Abdominal migraine causes dull or aching abdominal pain near the navel. You usually don’t have a headache with abdominal migraine. Instead, these bad boys cause stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

This type is more common in children, but adults can also have it.

Ocular migraine (aka retinal migraine)

Where do you feel it? visual disturbances behind one eye, with or without headache

Intensity: moderate to severe

Ocular migraine causes visual disturbances similar to migraine with aura, but it only occurs in one eye. Symptoms can include:

  • blind spots
  • “see the stars”
  • zigzag lines
  • temporary vision loss or blindness

Migraine pain may or may not occur after an ocular migraine, leaving you with all the visual non-joys of an aura without the pesky pain.

Menstrual migraine

Where do you feel it? pain on one side of the head

Intensity: moderate to severe

Menstrual migraine is technically a common migraine or a migraine with aura depending on the symptoms. About 60% of women suffer from menstrual migraine at some point in their life, which is usually felt on one side of the head.

Essentially changing hormone levels at any time during the menstrual cycle can trigger this migraine attack. Some forms of hormonal birth control can also make pain worse.

If you are prone to migraine attacks, talk to your doctor or gynecologist about which type of birth control is best for you. People with migraine with aura should avoid taking contraceptives that contain estrogen, as this can increase the risk of stroke.

Vestibular migraine

Where do you feel it? does not always involve headaches, but affects your balance

Intensity: mild to severe

Vestibular migraine can throw you off balance – literally.

One of the main causes of vertigo, vestibular migraine attacks usually occur in your inner ear (an area that affects your sense of balance). You may feel ringing in your ears or feel like you are falling.

This migraine is not always accompanied by headaches, but it can cause:

  • dizziness
  • stunning
  • spinning sensation
  • feeling out of balance
  • falling sensation
  • changes in vision or hearing
  • nausea

Migraine with brainstem aura (aka basilar migraine)

Where do you feel it? varied

Intensity: mild to severe

Brainstem migraine with aura – aka basilar migraine – is a rare type of migraine with aura that occurs in approximately 0.04% of the population.

A basilar migraine attack typically begins in the back of your neck, around your brainstem area (hence the name). The pain creeps up one side of your head, causing a pounding sensation.

Along with a killer headache, this migraine can also affect your vision, hearing, and speech. You may also feel super tired and drained after a basilar migraine attack.

Migraine is a disorder that often causes intense headaches, among other symptoms. The pain is usually felt on one side of the head, but can also occur on the forehead, behind the eyes, or on the back of the neck.

There are several types of migraine, which can affect the location and intensity of the pain. Some migraines are accompanied by an aura, which causes sensory issues that can affect your vision, hearing, muscle strength, or motor skills. Migraine with aura may or may not include a headache.

Treatment for migraine can include a combination of prescription or over-the-counter medications, as well as lifestyle changes or home remedies. If your migraine attacks persist, get worse, or start to affect the quality of your life, talk to your doctor for help.

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