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Hemiplegic Migraine

About Hemiplegic Migraines

What Is A Hemiplegic Migraine?

Hemiplegic migraine is a rare form of migraine headache that is characterised by temporary paralysis or weakness on one side of the body (hemiplegia) during or before a migraine attack. It is considered a subtype of migraine with aura, which means it is preceded or accompanied by neurological symptoms known as aura which can include visual, sensory or speech/language issues.

Hemiplegic migraine is believed to be a result of abnormal brain activity and changes in blood flow in the brain and are directly connected to a specific genetic predisposition for this type of migraine.


Hemiplegic Migraine Diagnosis

How Do We Diagnose A Hemiplegic Migraine?

To diagnose hemiplegic migraine, healthcare professionals consider the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and family history of migraines. The diagnostic process may involve detailed medical history and neurological examination to assess motor function, reflexes, coordination, and sensory abilities. Other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as stroke, epilepsy, or other types of migraine, need to be ruled out through appropriate investigations.

Once it has been established after the first few episodes of hemiplegic migraine that it is not a stroke or any other sinister medical condition, it can alleviate the stress or concern about the condition to some degree but it is always a stressful event given the severity of the symptoms

Hemiplegic Migraine Symptoms

Aura symptoms

Aura symptoms which include visual disturbances, sensory changes, language difficulties, or disturbances in movement coordination.

Severe Headache

Paralysis Numbness

Temporary paralysis or weakness on one side of the body (hemiplegia). This can affect the face, arm, and leg on one side .

Sensory changes, such as tingling or numbness.

Nausea or Vomiting

Increased Sensitivity

Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia)

Treating Hemiplegic Migraines with the Watson Headache Approach 

Hemiplegic Migraine Treatment

The treatment of hemiplegic migraine focuses on managing symptoms and preventing future attacks. Treatment options may include migraine medications. However, caution must be exercised as certain medications may have contraindications in hemiplegic migraine due to the risk of vasoconstriction.

 Headache Practitioners assist in identifying triggers and making appropriate lifestyle modifications, such as managing stress, maintaining regular sleep patterns, and avoiding known triggers, can help reduce the frequency of hemiplegic migraine attacks.

Manual therapy treatment to desensitise the brainstem has been effective in managing the condition. Education and support in recognizing symptoms, managing attacks, guidance in coping strategies and seeking medical help when needed, is important.

For further reading to manage Hemiplegic migraine, read our blogs on Understanding Triggers,  Sleep hygiene and What causes migraine?

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